Archive for the ‘MLB’ category

Average Thoughts From An Average Fan 10-29-12

October 29, 2012

It pains me to have to write the following paragraph…

One of the worst experiences in sports is watching your arch rival win.  Last night I experienced this for the second time in three years as the San Francisco Giants swept the Detroit Tigers en route to becoming the 2012 World Series Champions.  Like many other Dodgers fans it made me sick watching the black and orange dancing around in a celebratory fashion in October.  Once in 2010 was bad enough but to have to experience it again just two years later was a big time punch to the gut for fans of the azul.

Ok.  Now that I’ve got the paragraph from the “biased fan” perspective out of my system.  It’s time to express my feelings from the “mature adult” perspective.  If the players on this team weren’t wearing San Francisco Giants laundry it’s likely I would’ve been openly rooting for them to win it all.  When you look at the Giants line up on paper you don’t see a list filled with household names and superstars from top to bottom.But that’s what makes their story so great.

These guys played a great team game and everybody bought in to the goal and made whatever sacrifices were necessary to achieve it.  Isn’t that the kind of behavior we all want to see out of our favorite teams?  Is that not the kind of values we teach our kids to not only carry with them in sports but in everyday life?

I tip my hat to the Giants.  They deserve every bit of the success they achieved this year.  (Please Baseball Gods, don’t make me ever have to write that again)

Hopefully some good can come out of the Giants success as far as LA fans are concerned and that  Dodgers management will be motivated even further to step their game up and get the Dodgers back to the top of baseball’s food chain where they belong.

Another year of “The Association”  is upon us…

As another year of professional basketball entertainment gets underway on October 30.  My predictions for the season can be found here.  If you root for the Lakers, Thunder or Heat you obviously have the most to be excited about as your teams are the overwhelming favorites to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy at the end of the season.  If you have dreams of a championship and you root for one of the other 27 teams in the league then this year is likely going to be a complete and utter failure for you.

This past Sunday night on “The Average Joe Show NBA Preview Special” I had a moment of clarity about my view of the NBA.  The “one percent” have most of the wealth while the other 99% are fighting for what’s left.

The NBA is a lot like society.  In the history of the league there have been 63 champions.  The Boston Celtics (17), Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers (16)  have combined to win 33 championships.  That means either the Celtics or Lakers have won 52.4% of the time.

If you add in the Chicago Bulls (6) and San Antonio Spurs (4) that means those four teams have combined to win it all 68.3% of the time.  That’s four teams with more than 2/3 of all the championships in the history of the league.  Between 1987-1998 there were no “one and done” champion.  Every team went back to back or in the case of the Bulls “three-peated”.

If there’s any kind of “occupy” movement that should be going on, it should be in front of the NBA’s office.

I know a new season brings new hope and optimism each year but if you’re a fan of any team not named, Lakers, Celtics, Thunder or Heat you’re simply fooling yourself.

Do I think it’s the NBA’s goal to have such competitive imbalance?  Of course not.  But by making it a players league where the individuals, not teams are marketed along with not having a hard salary cap, the league is reaping what they’ve sowed.  It’s the big markets in one corner and everyone else in the other.

This is what the NBA’s commercials should be saying, “The NBA…It’s fantastic!  (Offer does not apply to Bucks, Kings, Bobcats, Hornets, Wizards or Raptors fans).

Once again I would like to thank Gary Bettman…

For proving that he is far and away the worst commissioner in all of professional sports.  A few days ago the league announced that all November games would be cancelled.  Now I just read that their annual “Winter Classic” out door game is expected to be cancelled in the coming days.

Way to go Gary!  Only under your leadership could a sport that I love lose an entire season due to a labor dispute and less than ten years later threaten to do it again.

It’s already bad enough that fan interest has declined and the TV deal is worse off than when you took over once upon a time but now you’re once again taking games from me.  Please step down and hand over the reigns to someone that knows what they’re doing.  Stop ruining a great game.

Also to blame in this matter is Donald Fehr.  You might remember him as the man who ran the Major League Baseball Players Association when they went on strike in 1994 ultimately resulting in the cancellation of the playoffs and World Series that year.

You’re bad for sports Donald Fehr and I can’t stand you!  Please go away and stop taking things that I enjoy away from me.

Thanks for stepping into the clubhouse!

Joe Pacheco

Co-host “The Average Joe Show”

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Average Thoughts: MLB Playoff Edition 10-14-12

October 29, 2012

I love the baseball postseason…

And I can’t think of a better example why as to this year’s four first round playoff series.  The two biggest underdog stories of the year, the Oakland A’s and Baltimore Orioles took the favored Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees respectively all the way to a final fifth and decisive Game 5 in each of their series.

The defending champion St. Louis Cardinals overcame a 6-0 deficit in their Game 5 to stun the Washington Nationals and the San Francisco Giants won three straight on the road against the Cincinnati Reds while becoming the first National League team to overcome a 0-2 deficit in a best of five series.

I was rooting for Oakland, Baltimore, Washington and Cincinnati so even though I was disappointed by the outcomes of each series, all provided great drama and kept me glued to my seat until the very end.  As a baseball fan I can’t ask for more than that.  As for the next round, I’ll be rooting for St. Louis and Detroit.

A terrible occurrence took place in the Bronx last night…

When the Yankees lost shortstop Derek Jeter for the rest of the postseason when he fractured his left ankle while trying to make a diving play during New York’s 6-4 loss in Game One of the ALCS against Detroit.

Those of you who regularly read my blog know I never root for the Yankees and am in no hurry to see them win their 27th championship however I never want to see a player get injured, let alone a player of the caliber and class of the Yankees captain.  When I root for the Yankees to lose I want them to get beat when they’re at full strength.

Jeter’s injury is not only a loss for the Yankees but all of baseball this postseason.  Here’s wishing “The Captain” a speedy recovery.  I hope he eventually gets to end his postseason career on a healthy note.

I thought it was one the biggest crimes in baseball…

That the Washington Nationals continued to be stubborn in their position of not letting Stephen Strasburg pitch in these playoffs.  The decision by Washington’s management to shut Strasburg down after reaching a season innings limit is a huge slap in the face to every player and coach in the organization as well as every one of their fans who supports the team with their hard earned money.

Yes, the Nationals were way ahead of schedule in compiling baseball’s best regular season record at 98-64.  You can’t argue with the fact the team is in a great position to make annual playoff appearances over the next several years.  However, current success is not a guarantee of future results and chances to win the World Series don’t come along every year.

Not pitching Strasburg wasn’t the reason Washington lost Game 5 but during this off-season everyone in the Nationals organization along with their fans will be focused on what might’ve been.

Shame on the Nationals organization for letting their ego get in the way of a doing what’s best for the team.  You were a great story this season Washington but your decision not to play your best healthy pitcher means that I don’t feel sorry for you.

Never underestimate the heart of a champion…

The St. Louis Cardinals showed us why in a 9-7 win over Washington in the decisive Game 5 of their first round series.  Not only did they overcome a 6-0 deficit in the game but they were down to their last strike twice before pulling off the biggest comeback ever in a winner take all postseason game.

Since winning it all last year the Cardinals lost manager Tony LaRussa to retirement and their best player in first baseman Albert Pujols to free agency.  They respond by continuing to not only win but do it in a historically, dramatic fashion.  Congrats Cardinals!  You deserve every bit of your success.

Thanks for stepping into the clubhouse.

Average Thoughts From An Average Sports Fan: 8-16-12 MLB Edition

August 16, 2012

With so much going on in the world of baseball I felt compelled to once again hit the keyboard and dedicate this entire column to “America’s Past Time”.  So without further ado, here we go…

Looks like we have some “Rotten Melk” in San Francisco…

Or I guess you could call it a “Melk Dud”.  No matter what silly headline you could give it as a newspaper editor it all means the same thing.  San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera was suspended by Major League Baseball on Wednesday for 50 games for violating their substance abuse policy as he tested positive for the performance enhancing drug Testosterone.

Cabrera has brought much shame on himself and an organization that has already had more than its  share of PED controversy.  At a time when the Giants are fighting for a playoff berth Cabrera completely lets his teammates and the organization down by cheating and getting himself banned for the rest of the season.

The authenticity of everything he’s accomplished last year and this year is now clouded with doubt and cynicism.  This year he was second in the league in batting with an average of .346 and was the All-Star Game MVP.  With free agency on the horizon he no doubt cost himself  millions and millions of dollars in potential earnings.

As a baseball fan I am disappointed that once again another player has been caught cheating the game.  As a Dodgers fan all I have to say is, “Sucks to be you guys.  Go Dodgers!”

Time to celebrate something good…

In the form of Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez who Wednesday pitched the 23rd perfect game in baseball history in a 1-0 defeat of Tampa Bay. Hernandez was dominant striking out 12 Rays batters.

Hernandez is currently one of the games greatest talents and despite having won the Cy Young Award back in 2010 I believe he still flies under the radar to many casual baseball fans because he pitches for a team that has been flat out awful the last several years.  If Hernandez pitched in a major market he would be one of the most recognized players in the game.

Speaking of the Rays…

What is it about this team that makes them a magnet for being no-hit or having a perfect game thrown against them?  This is the second time they’ve had a perfect game thrown against them in three seasons (Oakland starter Dallas Braden tossed one against them in 2010).  Since their inaugural season in 1998 they have been either no-hit or been on the wrong side of a perfect game five times.  That’s the most by any team during that time span.

Let him play!  Let him play!

When I think of Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg all I can think of is the famous scene in the Bad News Bears In Breaking Training where the officials want to rush the Bears and Toros off the Astrodome field because it’s time for the Astros to start the second game of their doubleheader.

There has been talk all year of the Washington organization shutting down Strasburg for the season once he reaches a pitch limit of between 160-180 innings.   All Strasburg has done  is compile a 14-5 record with a 2.91 ERA while striking out 173 in 139 1/3 innings pitched.  He is arguably the main reason why the Nationals have the best record in the National League at 73-45.

If I’m Strasburg and management tries to take me off the field, I’m going Tanner Boyle on them and making them chase me down to get me off.

Quit your whining already…

According to a recent article by Yahoo Sports Jeff Passan some of the Boston Red Sox players went to team ownership and voiced their displeasure with manager Bobby Valentine.

I was not a fan of the Valentine hiring and thought the team made a huge mistake when firing Terry Francona.  Considering what Francona accomplished in bean town I thought he should’ve had a tenure as Red Sox manager that equaled those of Tommy Lasorda and Walter Alston with the Dodgers.

As I write this Boston has a record of 57-61 and is 13 games out of first place.  Here’s a novel concept for the Red Sox players…how about focusing your energy into what you have complete control of and that’s performing better on the field and making the most of one of the most talented rosters in all of baseball!  It’s “weak sauce” to place all the blame on the manager for your under achievements on the field.  Just shut up and play already!

Thanks for stepping into the clubhouse.

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Average Thoughts From An Average Sports Fan 7-30-12

July 30, 2012

There is no better time to be a sports fan than the present.  The major league baseball non-waiver trade deadline is less than 24 hours away, the summer Olympics are in full swing and NFL teams opened up their training camps today.

Let’s start with some of the recent baseball trades…

Like most Dodger fans, I love the recent acquisition of Hanley Ramirez.  The new LA third baseman is hitting .333 with 1 HR, 7 RBI and 5 runs scored in his first five games since being traded from Miami.  People forget that Ramirez is only 28 years old.  If he can recapture any resemblance of the all-star form he had with the Marlins where he was batting well north of .300 while scoring 125 runs and joining the 30/30 club, the Dodgers will have “gun and ski masked” the Marlins out of one of the games best talents.  Regardless when your third baseman is Juan Uribe, the only place you can go is up.

Not to be out done by their southern California rivals…

The Angels acquired former AL Cy Young award winner Zack Greinke from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for three minor leaguers.  After a disappointing start to the season and with their biggest division rival also rumored to be in the mix for Greinke’s services the Angels knew they had to make a big splash.  People can say what they want about Angels owner Arte Moreno but every year he at least takes some kind of action to put the Angels in the best position to win.  Add Greinke to a staff that also features Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Dan Haren and you might have the best starting pitching foursome in the game today.

It was the end of an era in Seattle…

On July 23 the Mariners said good-bye to the face of their franchise when they shipped Ichiro Suzuki to the New York Yankees.  After the deal was made it was reported that Ichiro had gone to Seattle ownership and quietly asked for a trade.  Big props to Ichiro for requesting his deal the right way, privately and face to face with ownership.  Not through the press and publicly like a certain NBA center.

While I’m not happy that the Yankees benefited from the deal, I’m happy for Ichiro that he gets to spend the twilight of his career playing meaningful baseball.  While the old Ichiro that was getting 200 hits a year is long gone, this current version still has plenty left in the tank on a team that is stacked and loaded and in no way needs him to carry a big load.

I also want to give a big “thumbs up” to the Seattle Mariners for honoring Ichiro’s request and giving the future hall of famer who had given so much to the franchise, a chance to end his career on a better note than he would have had he been a stuck on a last place team that is year’s away from making any noise.

I don’t know what it is about the Olympics…

But I just love watching the games.  While I wouldn’t give a darn about most of these sports in the year’s in between the games I just love it when it’s “flag versus flag”.

Yesterday I found myself watching beach volleyball, Ping Pong, water polo, rowing and swimming.  If I came across these sports while flipping through the channels at any other time I would’ve just kept right on going but since it’s the Olympics and one country’s best is competing with another country’s best for world bragging rights I get hooked and before I know it hour’s have passed by.

On to the association…

Where weeks continue to pass by and still Dwight Howard is listed on the Orlando Magic’s roster.  I don’t know about the rest of you but I’m completely washing my hands of this story.  At this point, I truly could care less where he winds up.  In fact, I will no longer write or talk about Dwight Howard trade rumors until a trade has officially been announced.  Goodbye for now Dwight Howard.  See you when the season starts and we can talk about your play on the court or when you’re wearing an NBA jersey that is not Orlando’s.

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Average Thoughts From An Average Sports Fan 7-16-12

July 16, 2012

As former FBI Director Louis Freeh read the findings of his report regarding the Sandusky scandal at Penn State, all I could think of was that this has to be one of the top 10 worst days in the history of sports.

Penn State University President Graham Spanier, Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz all should have a special spot in prison reserved for them.  If Joe Paterno was still alive I believe he should have spent the last years of his life rotting away in a jail cell too.  No doubt Sandusky is the worst kind of human being there is.  Spanier, Curley, Schultz, and “Joe Pa” are not far behind.

I know  for decades Paterno did a lot of good things for a lot of  people, however his failure to protect the well beings of children undoes all of that in my eyes.  No longer can I  remember Joe Paterno as simply the head coach of Penn State football.  For me he is now Joe Paterno, a man who did nothing to stop child abuse of the worst kind.  Disgusting!

Now back to sports…

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant in a recent interview said this year’s version of the USA Olympic basketball team could beat the famous 1992 “Dream Team” who won the gold medal in the 1992 Olympics and was lead by Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and numerous other hall of famers.

I admire Kobe Bryant’s basketball abilities a lot.  If his career was over today I would definitely put him down as one of the top 10 greatest to ever play the game.  But in this case Bryant needs to put down whatever delusional inducing substances are making him talk that way and come back to reality.  I love your competitive spirit Kobe but in this case you’re just wrong.  Plain and simple.

Speaking of competitive spirit…

You have to admire the guts of Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving.  The reigning NBA Rookie of the Year challenged Bryant to a one on one game.   Has Mr. Irving been taking bath salts?  Does he know who he’s messing with?

Bryant is a five time NBA champ, two time Finals MVP and former regular season MVP.  Not to mention he is currently fifth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.  He is one of the proudest men ever to play the game, and has a competitive fire that is second to none.  Although Bryant will be turning 34 this year, there is no way that he lets a young 20 something trash talker embarrass him.  Be careful what you ask for Mr. Irving because you just might get it.

In more basketball related news…

Despite trading for Portland Trailblazer point guard Raymond Felton, I can’t imagine the New York Knicks not matching the Houston Rocket’s 3 year, $25 million offer sheet for fan favorite Jeremy Lin.  Although you can argue whether it makes basketball sense for them to do so, what you can’t argue with is how much it makes sense marketing wise for the Knicks to bring him back.

Deep down New York knows they don’t have a strong chance to win a championship this season, but they do know that if they bring back Lin they have a strong chance to make even more money from ticket sales.  If you can’t win on the court, you might as well win in the financial department.

Before I go any further I must say…

On behalf of all Lakers fans I would like to thank Ramon Sessions for exercising his player option to become a free agent.  Because of your belief that you could make more money long term by doing so, the Lakers were able to make a trade to bring a future hall of famer and much better point guard in Steve Nash to Los Angeles.  Thanks again Mr. Sessions.  Your efforts were truly appreciated.  Best wishes to you in Charlotte where you’ll be lucky to win 20 games.  Meanwhile the Lakers will be competing for a championship.

On to baseball…

This Los Angeles Dodgers fan is extremely excited to keep reading they’re involved in several different trade talks to try and better their ball club, and make a second half run.  Of the various names they’ve been linked to I would most like to see them acquire Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster and Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez.

Dempster has pitched extremely well this season leading the majors with a 1.86 ERA while failing to allow a run over the past 33 consecutive innings he has pitched.  Moving from hitter friendly Wrigley Field to pitcher friendly Dodger Stadium would make Dempster that much better while increasing the Dodgers chances at a postseason berth.

Ramirez would give the Dodgers some desperately needed power production out of a corner infielder while providing great protection in the line up for Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.  The 34 year old currently holds a .272 batting average to go along with 10 HR,  52 RBI, 28 doubles and 50 runs scored this season.

And last but not least…

College football is under two months away from starting and the first NFL preseason games are a just a few weeks away.  Football season is almost here!  Yeah buddy!

Thanks for stepping into the clubhouse.

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Average Thoughts From An Average Sports Fan 7-2-12

July 2, 2012

New Atlanta Hawks General Manager Danny Ferry should win the “GM Of The Year” award.  Yes, I know we’re in the middle of the off-season, but what this guy has accomplished in less than a week on the job is awe inspiring.

Today Ferry pulled the ultimate jedi mind trick when he convinced Brooklyn Nets General Manager Billy King to take on the remaining 4 years and nearly $90 million dollars left on Joe Johnson’s over paid contract.

Who care’s who the Hawks got in return.  The fact that they no longer need to pay Johnson like he’s Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Kevin Durant or Derrick Rose  is reason enough for Ferry to douse himself in champagne like he just won a championship.

To top the day off, Ferry then pulls off his second jedi mind trick of the day by dumping draft bust extraordinare Marvin Williams on the Utah Jazz in exchange for point guard Devin Harris, a former all-star.  Williams and Harris make roughly the same amount of money but Harris is entering the final year of his deal while Williams still has two years remaining.

Taking on Joe Johnson’s contract is the type of decision making that GM’s should lose their job over.  If I was Mikhail Prokhorov I would call King into my office and break him off like I was Donald Trump in an episode of The Apprentice.

The NBA:  Where bad contracts happen.  For further proof of that please see the  Houston Rockets signing of Chicago Bulls Center Omer Asik to a three year, $25.1 million offer sheet.  Someone please tell me again why Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey is considered such a genius.  I’ll be sitting here patiently waiting for a worth while answer.

Is anyone else sick of Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard?  I’m completely over this guy constantly changing his mind.  First he wants to get traded.  Next he says he wants to stay in Orlando and even decides to use his player option to stay for another year.  Now he wants to go to the Nets and only the Nets.  Mr. Howard, you’re a grown man who is going to make more than $18 million next season.  Quit your whining, shut up and play basketball!  Enough of you already!  To borrow a line from a tweet I read, “people can say all they want about Lebron James but at least he made a decision.”

Nice to see the Dodgers finally score some runs and pick up a 8-3 victory on Sunday over the New York Mets.  Without Kemp and Ethier this everyday line up is downright awful.  I know several of those runs yesterday were gift wrapped by New York who was doing their best Bad News Bears imitation but after all the Dodgers have been though the last dozen or so games I will take it.

In other Dodger related thoughts, getting shutout all 27 innings of a three game series against the hated San Francisco Giants has to be the darkest day ever in the proud, rich history of Dodger baseball.  It’s one thing to get swept but far worse to get shutout in all three games by your hated rivals.  I know the Dodgers count on us fans for support but could you please support us by scoring one freaking run in a three game series against the Giants?

Now that I got that off my chest, I’m excited about this new Dodgers ownership and it’s great to see them involved in player signings and trade talks again after the whole McCourt debacle.  They recently had a deal in place for Houston Astros first baseman and outfielder Carlos Lee but Lee decided not to waive his no trade clause and I’m not disappointed in the least.

At 36 years old Lee only has 5 home runs and 29 RBI through 64 games played this season.  His power years are clearly behind him and if he doesn’t have that I don’t think he does the Dodgers any good.  Although they didn’t get what they wanted, I believe Magic and company will ultimately find the right guy and it will happen sooner rather than later.

Much to the dismay of my “The Average Joe Show” co-host Joe Arrigo, i’m going to just come right out and say that right now I think Mike Trout is better than Bryce Harper.  Both players are undoubtedly legit and going to be carrying the flag for major league baseball for the next decade but the stat’s don’t lie and other than triples, Trout’s numbers are better across the board.  I know Trout has the better line up protection but at the end of the day he still has to execute and so far he has and better than his rookie counterpart.

My beloved Stanley Cup Champions (don’t think I’m not going to milk that for all it’s worth in the next year) Los Angeles Kings re-signed forward Dustin Penner to a one year, $3.25 million.  I know he was an important piece in the Kings run to their first ever championship but in the regular season he flat out sucked.  Let’s face it, Penner picked up his paycheck with a gun and ski mask.  I think $3.25 million is a bit much but I take solace in knowing that it’s just for one season.

Congrats to Spain for shutting out Italy 4-0 to take home the Euro Cup.  A great day for the Spaniards no doubt.  This American would be lying if I said I cared or watched even a minute of the tournament for that matter.  Call me in two years when the World Cup comes around because that’s the only soccer event that matters.

The NFL season is a little more than a month away with the Cardinals and Saints set to take each other on in the Hall of Fame Game on August 5.  In case there was any doubt, I am extremely excited about that.  Not for the pre-season games but to know that another football season is right around the corner.  I’m sorry but if you don’t like football you’re simply un-American.  Dare I say, even a communist.

Thanks for stepping into the clubhouse.

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Glad To Have You Back Baseball

April 3, 2012

Opening day of a sports season is for many the greatest day of the season.  Whether you’re a fan of the NFL gridiron, NBA hard wood or MLB diamond nothing beats the start of a new beginning.

Past failures are forgotten as each season begins with a sense of hope and optimism.  Deep inside every fan lies a belief that this is the year their dreams will come true.  Every fan feels their team has a chance to achieve something special, whether it’s being in the playoff hunt until the final games of the season, making their annual appearance in the postseason or standing alone at the top of the mountain hoisting the championship trophy.

As you know I love all the major sports whether it’s professional or college.  Maybe it’s because it was the first sport I ever followed as a child but nothing gives me the sense of excitement that opening day baseball does.  As I write this sentence, I feel a sense of Christmas eve like euphoria.

Last week I got the equivalent of a night before Christmas gift when Oakland and Seattle opened the season in Japan.  Starting tomorrow and continuing through the end of the week I get to unwrap all the other presents baseball has to offer one game at a time.

I love the athleticism of baseball as much as I love the unique mental strategy the game has to offer.  No other sport combines athletic qualities that include hand eye coordination, powerful arm strength, quick reflexes, speed and power like “America’s Past Time”.  In addition to all the necessary physical qualities, everyone involved with the game has to be mentally sharp in order to stay a step or two ahead in order to make the best decision.

I love baseball for it’s unique ability to make drama unfold.  For a classic example of great baseball drama you only need to go back no further than Game Six of last year’s World Series between St. Louis and Texas that saw Cardinals third baseman David Freese steal the “World Series Hero” tag from Ranger outfielder Josh Hamilton within one inning.  The entire balance of a game hangs on one pitch and we all witnessed that last October.

Last year gave us a lifetime of memories but this year is sure to do more of the same.  There is so much to be excited about this season.  Future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols left the Cardinals after more than a decade of dominance to join the Angels.  Long time all-star Brewer first baseman Prince Fielder followed in his father’s foot steps when he signed with the Detroit Tigers.  The Yankees and Mariners swapped two of the top young players in the game when the Bronx Bombers sent Jesus Montero to Seattle for Michael Pineda.  The Florida Marlins are now the Miami Marlins and begin their new era with a brand new stadium.  Of course their’s the yearly renewal of traditional battles between the Yankees and Red Sox, Giants and Dodgers as well as Cardinals and Cubs.

In addition to all the things I just named, what makes me the most excited about the new season is that the Los Angeles Dodgers finally have a proper ownership group.  The ownership group, lead by my all-time favorite Laker Earvin “Magic” Johnson along with former Atlanta Braves President Stan Kasten are the perfect group to lead the the Dodgers back to their winning ways.

For the past couple of seasons Dodger news had very little to do with the play on the field, but almost all to do with the ugly divorce between Frank and Jamie McCourt which lead to financial ruins for the team and a product on the field that was not fun to watch.

It’s amazing how exciting a fan can get when they realize their team can once again be involved in adding a little payroll, bidding on free agents and making trades to improve their club.  Sometimes it’s the little things in life that are the most rewarding.

If Magic and Kasten can give us even half the success they achieved in their previous endeavors, Dodger fans will surely forget the past years of feeling blue and will regularly experience the euphoria of being in blue heaven.

Thanks for stepping into the clubhouse.

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Thank You New York Giants And Other Thoughts…

January 24, 2012

I don’t know about the rest of you, but the first thing I need to do is thank Kyle Williams and the New York Giants from saving me from a nightmare Super Bowl scenario.  Thanks to Williams second punt return snafu leading to a New York game winning field goal in overtime I now have a team to root for in the Super Bowl.

A big thumbs down goes to Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Lee Evans and kicker Billy Cundiff.  Because of Evans inability to hold on to a touchdown pass and Cundiff’s best Ray Finkle imitation I have to watch perhaps my least favorite team in the NFL, the New England Patriots gets a shot at yet another championship.

I would’ve liked to have seen New York and Baltimore in the Super Bowl.  Had that been the case all I would’ve been rooting for is a good game.  But I guess having a good guy/bad guy scenario works just as well.  At least it wasn’t the Patriots against the 49ers.  That scenario would’ve been a nightmare for this Raider fan.  Had been that situation I probably would’ve been rooting for New England because at least their gloating would have been taking place three times zones away.  Since I live in central California the prospect of seeing a gloating San Francisco fan on a near daily basis would’ve been too much to handle.

“Who’s got it worse than us?” – Sincerely, Kyle Williams, Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff

All in all I’m happy the NBA is back but frankly it’s painful to watch.  A couple of weeks ago the Bulls and Raptors play to a 77-64 final.  A few nights later the Mavericks and Lakers try to set the game back even further with a 73-70 final.  Last night the Magic single-handedly sent the game back to the Naismith era by scoring only 56 points in a game.

I know the shortened schedule is the reason for some bizarre happenings and some less than top quality performances but the three examples I just mentioned are inexcusable.  Isn’t there any way to fine these teams a games pay?  Clearly they didn’t show up on those respective nights.

After a 10-8 start that includes a 1-6 road record I completely overestimated the Lakers ability to contend for a title.  No team with that bad of a road record can expect to be playing for anything worth while this season except for a higher draft pick.

I can’t figure out if it’s the team needing time to adjust to a new offensive scheme or the team not having the right player personnel to properly execute the new scheme.  One thing I do know is that a team with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum should not be this painful to watch on the offensive end.  With the way Bryant is jacking up shots, I feel like I’m watching the 2005-2006 or 2006-2007 Lakers and I don’t understand why.  This team is way more talented than those that featured such legendary never was’ as Kwame Brown and Smush Parker.

How about the Detroit Tigers coming out of nowhere to sign first baseman Prince Fielder?  The deal is for nine years and worth $214 million.  How’s that for protection for Miguel Cabrera who is a top two or three hitter in his own right?  Along with what the Angels and Yankees have done this off-season, the race for the AL Pennant is down to three teams despite pitchers and catchers not reporting for a little less than a month from now.

Today the Raiders hired former Broncos Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen as their new head coach. For Oakland this was the first head coach to be hired with a defensive background since John Madden in the late 60’s.  I don’t know much about Allen but I was a fan of the hiring General Manager Reggie McKenzie so “In Reggie I Trust”.

I’ve been a Los Angeles Kings fan for my entire life and I never ever thought I would see the day that a Kings goaltender would make an all-star team.  So a big congratulations goes to Jonathan Quick for his outstanding season thus far.  Without the outstanding play of Quick, Los Angeles General Manager Dean Lombardi would be standing in the unemployment right along side former head coach Terry Murray.

Thanks for stepping into the clubhouse.

Follow me on twitter @joesclubhouse

The Hot Stove Is On Fire

December 15, 2009

For baseball fans the days between the end of the World Series and the beginning of spring training are highlighted by one rumor after another of a potential trade or a possible free agent signing.  After a certain point you get desensitized to the daily reports of possible destinations for players to stay at or move to.  However when a big domino does fall it still sends a certain shockwave through a fans system.

Today, two of the biggest dominoes fell.  Since last July there have been dozens of reports on potential trade destinations for former AL Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay spanning from the Bronx to southern California and all points in between.  Former Blue Jay General Manager J.P. Ricciardi failed to move Halladay at last years trade deadline because in his eyes potential teams did not “blow him away” with an offer. 

Apparently current Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos has been “blown away” by an offer and according to numerous media outlets has tentatively agreed to move Halladay to the Philadelphia Phillies as part of a three team blockbuster trade that involves 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee winding up as a Seattle Mariner.  Toronto would receive top-level prospects from both Seattle and Philadelphia.  In addition to Halladay, the Phillies would end up with a couple of prospects from Seattle for Lee. 

Obviously the trade is a great one for Philadelphia as they’re getting one of the games elite pitchers in Halladay and have reportedly inked him to a three-year extension that will pay him $60 million between 2011-2013.  They did not have the same guarantee Lee would be on their roster past this upcoming season as he is set to become a free agent following 2010. 

Halladay should become even more dominant than he already was in the AL East where he was 17-10 with a 2.79 ERA, 208 strikeouts and nine complete games.  If past trends are any indication of future results (see C.C. Sabathia to Milwaukee in 2008 and Lee to Philadelphia in 2009), Halladay should win 20 or more games and the NL Cy Young award next year. 

For Seattle, they get another ace to go along with Felix Hernandez.  That 1-2 punch will obviously make them a force to be reckoned with in the AL West.  Having already signed Chone Figgins away from the division rival Angels, Seattle is letting it known they plan to be a contender next year.   

As for Toronto, congratulations, your team is officially in the toilet.  I say those words based on my personal belief that teams who are contenders get major leaguers in trades while teams in the toilet get prospects.  Even if they are highly touted prospects, they have not proven themselves on the major league level.  Only with the passage of time can we say if this is a good deal for the Blue Jays.  That being said, I will give them credit for getting something for Halladay instead of the nothing they would have gotten when he walked away as a free agent after 2010. 

The other big shoe to drop today was Boston’s signing of free agent pitcher John Lackey to a five-year deal worth between $80-$85 million.  This gives the Red Sox that all important third arm who they feel can match up with the Yankees big three of Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte.  Personally, I have mixed feelings on this signing.  As someone who roots for anyone to take down the Yankees I am happy to see a top talent stay out of their grasp but as someone who roots for the Angels, I am extremely disappointed at the fact they’ve failed to re-sign both of their top free agents of this offseason. 

I can honestly say this is something I would not have predicted for the reigning AL West champions.  Although the signing of designated hitter Hideki Matsui away from the Yankees is a nice one, it doesn’t even began to cushion the blow of losing not one but two important pieces to their team not to mention the writing is on the wall that fan favorite Vladimir Guerrero will not be back. 

If recent history has shown us anything it’s that Angels owner Arte Moreno will do whatever it takes to put a contender on the field.  I have no doubt he and GM Tony Reagins have a plan in place but until it comes to fruition, today is undoubtedly a day of disappointment for halo fans.

ALCS Preview

October 16, 2009

Tonight in the Bronx, the ALCS gets underway featuring the clear cut top two seeds in the American League, the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  Not that past performances are any clear indication of future results but these two teams have met twice before in the playoffs with the Angels emerging victorious both times in 2002 and 2005. 

The Yankees have ran through the American League this season like a hot knife through butter.  However since 2002 the Angels are the only team with a winning record against the Bronx Bombers.  This is clearly the best match up that the AL can offer so lets break down the important components.

Lets start with the offense.    The Yankees pack a huge punch to say the least with seven of their nine starting hitters topping the 20 home run mark.  Their first baseman and former Angel Mark Teixeira lead the way with 39 home runs and 122 RBI.  The always dangerous Alex Rodriguez hit 30 home runs and drove in 100 runs despite missing 38 games.  Rodriguez is heating up at the right time after hitting .455 with 2 HR and 6 RBI in the divisional series against Minnesota.  The Yankees are loaded with power featuring seven players that are slugging at .489 or higher.  The Yankees have no easy outs and are a routine nighmare for opposing pitchers.

While the Yankees rely on the long ball, the Angels play more of a national league style of baseball relying on speed and a station to station style of offense.  Their leadoff hitter Figgins stole 42 bases while number two hitter Bobby Abreu stole 30 bases.  Four more Angels players stole 10 or more bases this season.  The Angels mix in a nice balance of power and speed.  Kendry Morales who replace Teixeira at first base lead the Angels with 34 home runs.  Morales and Abreu each topped the 100 RBI mark while Hunter finished with 90 RBI despite playing in only 119 games this season.  Vladimir Guerrero proved in the ALDS that he is still a dangerous hitter while Juan Rivera is also a long ball threat.  Despite the fact that both teams feature dangerous line ups, I give the advantage to the Yankees based on their strength at the bottom of their line up.

As for the starting pitching the Yankees will go with a three man rotation that features 19 game winner CC Sabathia, the proven playoff veteran Andy Pettitte and the always dangerous AJ Burnett.  Sabathia and Burnett were big offseason free agent signings that have proven their worth under baseball’s biggest October stage thus far.  Sabathia would be starting on three days rest in game four and has shown signs of eventually breaking down just as he did with Milwaukee in last years postseason.

The Angels have a deeper starting staff with four pitchers who could possibly start in this series with Jon Lackey, Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders and Scott Kazmir who was acquired from Tampa Bay in August.  I think this factor will serve the Angels well and the depth will keep their starters fresh as the series goes on.  Because of that I give the starting pitching advantage to the Angels.

As for the bullpens, the Angels closer Brian Fuentes lead the major leagues with 48 saves.  Despite that stat, he has been far from consistent and has shown signs of wear and tear with his ERA a full run higher in the second half of the seaason.  Darren Oliver is a solid set up man who looked good in the ALDS. 

The Yankees feature the arguably the best closer in the game in Mariano Rivera who at the age of 39 finished with 44 saves and a 1.76 ERA.  The Yankees have plenty of capable of middle relievers who can get him the ball in the ninth inning led by youngsters Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain.   Because of Rivera and their depth I give the edge to the Yankees.

As for the benches the Angels have plenty of depth with utility infielder Maicer Izturis, back up catcher Mike Napoli and fourth outfielder Gary Matthews Jr.  Yankees back up catcher Jose Molina will catch AJ Burnett and Brett Gardner can provide plenty of speed in key situations.  I give the advantage to the Angels.

This is going to be a hard fought series and could be even better than the World Series.  The Angels will have to get production from their 7-9 hitters to be successful while the Yankees middle relief will face its biggest test to date.  If any team can beat the Yankees, its the Angels.  They are one of the few teams that have a confidence and swagger about them when facing the Yankees.  That being said, I just believe that the Yankees are rolling on all cylinders both offensively and defensively.  My gut tells me that this is their year to once again win it all.

My prediction is Yankees in seven.