Archive for the ‘Baseball’ Category

Now, usually I don’t do this. This isn’t a blog post about the R. Kelly song Ignition, but if that’s what helps you sleep at night (the way it helps me), I suggest you get the jams cranked and try to forget about the weekend that wasn’t.

The Blue Jays were swept by the Texas Rangers in something that resembled a massacre. I can’t confirm that Josh Hamilton is leatherface, but with two games that ended with Texas in the double digits, and a heartbreaking extra-innings loss in the middle, he’s not my favourite person in the major leagues. Like, just never going to think about running my hands through his fro.

Let’s all laugh it off as the Jays return home to face the first place Orioles by looking at the five best (and by best, I mean ARE YOU SERIOUS) message board comments about the weekend. Hot and fresh out the kitchen.

1. FIRE EVERYONE!!!!

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A far less charismatic version of George Clooney’s character in Up In The Air has joined the party and wants everyone to be fired. To make it better, he’ll send each coach to a different part of the country and then fly out to fire them to rack up frequent flyer miles.

2. KEEP IT REAL

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What I’m really seeing here is a hidden message, like when you do a word search and then there are leftover letters that spell a mystery word. It also could express the areas WHERE there REALLY WAS a point to be MADE over .500

Signed: EASY ON THE CAPS BRO! REALISTICALLY.

3. Making plans

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In consulting my planner, I can clearly see that the Jays planned to lose 87 games this year. I’m not kidding! I can see each and every single loss penciled into this invisible dayplanner that I share with the team. Sometimes we think about winning certain games. The Saturday game was supposed to be a win, but everyone forgot to tell Igarashi because he’s new, and then it was like “Sorry man, if you had looked at the planner, you’d know you were getting DFA-ed on Sunday and you probably shouldn’t have tried to be the hero and skyrocket your ERA.”

4. Getting in on it

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I mean, duh, yes. Cal Hamels is the hybrid player I created in my basement using the stats from Cole Hamels’s baseball-reference.com chart as well as 34 Cal Ripkin Jr. baseball cards and a LOT of masking tape and some hair extensions I got in Chinatown. I’ve sent countless emails to the Blue Jays front office, and they’ve already acknowledged their interest through a letter I received with the subject “MAILER-DAEMON Mail Delivery Subsystem”. It sounds very interesting.

5. The perhaps list

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Perhaps some losses can better be attributed to pulling starters out of games in the first two innings. Perhaps some deficits in a line up, bullpen, or rotation can be attributed to injury. Perhaps if the umpires weren’t holding grudges against the entirety of the Blue Jays like a dramatic ex-boyfriend, you win some. Perhaps other times things get real bad and you don’t. Perhaps the bleacher critics should grab another beer and sit back down instead of throwing their helmets in the wrong direction. Perhaps.

This and That: Baseball Observations

Posted: May 16, 2012 by centennialsports in Baseball

by Tom Ruminski

The time has come where I must plunge back into the blogosphere and continue my quest for online print domination. I have stood by for weeks in silence and allowed too much news to slip by without being critiqued. In particular, there are a couple of events that have caught my eye in the wonderful world of baseball. So without any further delay here is my hit list for this week.

Welcome back to Canada Vladdy

1. How the hell are the Toronto Blue Jays above .500?

Seriously!? This team has no business being even close to the mark, and yet somehow they currently stand four games over. Moreover, if the playoffs started today, Canada would see October baseball for the first time since 1993, and we all know what happened back then. Despite the epic struggles by Adam “I am still living in 2009 season” Lind, and Jose “I have forgotten how to hit a baseball” Bautista, as well as the massive struggles by the bullpen. The success of the Blue Jays this season can be attributed to their young rotation and their ability to hit with runners in scoring position. Currently, the likes of Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek, and Henderson Alvarez are a combined 13-9 with an ERA of 2.70 and 19 quality starts. In terms of clutch hitting, Toronto is hitting just above .300 when a runner is at second base or further. Taking all of this into consideration, this team could be scary when they put it all together. Oh and one more thing… welcome to Canada Vladdy!

2. Bryce Harper is the f*cking man!

The baseball world is ablaze as a result of the captivating play of Washington Nationals prospect Bryce Harper. Since his call up on April 28th, the 19-year-old Las Vegas native has hit .237 with, two homeruns, five RBI and an OPS of .710. Although the offensive numbers have been mediocre, the most impressive aspect of Harper’s game has been his play in left field. In a mere 16 games, the former first overall pick in the 2010 First Year Player Draft has already made several eye-popping plays in the field. So far, the dude has been a human highlight reel, just check the film.

If you need any more proof of this man’s super human abilities just check out his steal of home against Cole Hamels and the Philadelphia Phillies. Once again here is the tale of the tape to prove it.

With so much hype surrounding Harper, it would have not been a surprise if the rookie would have underperformed, after all, this kid was born in 1993. However, so far he has lived up to the billing as the best prospect to hit the Majors since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1989. Get accustomed to seeing this guy all over the leaderboards for the next two decades!

3. Josh Hamilton is not a human being

Dear Mr. Selig,

This is a letter of notification from the U.S. army. We are contacting you because we have discovered that you have some property that belongs to us. We would like it returned before things get any further out of control. One of our test-subject super soldiers escaped years ago and is now wreaking havoc in the MLB under the alias of Josh Hamilton. As you might already know, he is capable of outer-worldly acts. In fact, so far this season he is destroying everything in his path. Currently, he is hitting .400, with 18 homeruns, 44 RBI, and an OPS of 1.044. In fact, this week alone he hit. 479, with nine homeruns, 15 RBI and 15 runs scored. In light of this recent activity, it is in your best interest to co-operate with the armed forces are risk the possibility of losing all parity within categorical leaders. I repeat, this monster is more than capable of winning the Triple Crown.

Yours truly,
Uncle Sam

The Blue Jays sent the Royals on an 11-game losing streak after winning their last of a four-game series in Kansas City on Monday night. Toronto also broke a bizarre streak of its own, wherein it opened the season losing two, winning two, losing two…and so on and so forth. Big brooms were needed – the club picked up its first sweep since a million* years ago and travels to Baltimore in an attempt to paint Camden Yards blue tonight (if you will…and I think you will).

Traveling to Misery did the team good.

*2003, vs the Yankees. BALLER.

#beauty

Luis Perez came out of the bullpen with an anchor this past week. He firmly attached the anchor to the score and said “THIS STAYS RIGHT HERE”. I’m not on the Perez bandwagon. Let me explain: the 27-year old lefty was one of the sure things from last season in an otherwise always up-in-the air bullpen. Not surprisingly, Perez returned in 2012 to the re-vamped house of bulls and quickly made it clear why he kept his job. So no, I’m not on the Perez bandwagon – I’m basically leading the parade and hitting non-believers in the back of the knees with my ornate baton.

What a dream. (Photo: Mark Duncan)

In the Jays first game in KC (a 4-3 win), Perez had four K’s in 1 2-3 innings of work. Last night, to close out the series, he picked up where a pretty-dang-good Brandon Morrow left off in the seventh with two outs, and pitched a scoreless 1 1-3 innings. Luis Perez has not allowed a run in 11 1-3 innings this season. I dare you to tell me that he’s not a #beauty.

 

#dirty

Okay, so maybe the strike zone isn’t a person, and the strike zone doesn’t play for a team, but the strike zone was striking the fuck out of the entire Tampa Bay series in Toronto. Balls were strikes, strikes were balls, the entire ‘zone’ was anywhere from the batter’s box to either of the dugouts and probably seven feet in front and behind the plate (just to be safe). Absolutely filthy.

Pitchers are always asked to “talk about” finding the zone, “talk about” getting it down. Bore me to tears. Hold the athletes accountable because they make a balls-load of money to talk about what they’re doing right and wrong, and for the most part because at this level, they should be doing most things right.

At least we all agree that the seventh pitch was a little out of the zone. Wed, Apr 18 on Game Day.

Still, I’m a firm believer that you need two things to do your job, pro-athlete or stock associate at Old Navy:

1. You need to know how to do your job.

Okay, so I think with the exception of Morrow-meltdown days, everyone’s on board with the whole throwing-strikes situation.

2. You need to know what’s expected of you.

If the strike zone isn’t visible by the person who is calling the strikes, what are the expectations? How do you know how to do your job when the strike zone is subject to change based on whether or not the ump had enough coffee, got enough sleep last night, is having an emotional breakdown, is going through a divorce, hates his job, hates his co-workers, hates Canada, broke his nail, has a hang nail, or skipped all of his eye exams for the last 12-18 years? Boys club needs to clean it up.

Joey Votto Extension Crushes Jays Fan’s Dream

Posted: April 16, 2012 by centennialsports in Baseball

by Tom Ruminski

To the Toronto Blue Jays, Joey Votto was that hot girl in college that all of sudden appeared to have an interest in you. She smiled at you, laughed when you came her way, and would occasionally eye f*ck the sh*t out of you.
It looked like a certain thing, that is, until the ex-boyfriend got in the way…the Cincinnati Reds, who decided to propose to the girl with a 10-year-225-million dollar contract extension and win her back.

The dream is over……sigh.

Millions of Jays fan are devastated after hearing news of the monster extension handed out to the Toronto native. Votto, the apple of the Blue Jays desire, was expected to hit the free-agent market in the 2013 offseason after negotiations with the Reds appeared to hit a snare. He could have been the perfect complement to a righty-heavy lineup, provided protection for slugger Jose Bautista, and could have pushed the team to the brink of legitimate contention in the tough AL East.

Coming off a so-called “disappointing” offseason, Blue Jays fans were expecting the team to make an all-out effort to acquire the 2010 NL MVP. With the team losing out on the bidding war for Japanese sensation Yu Darvish, and the lack of attention given to MVP-caliber first baseman Prince Fielder, the masses had turned their attention to Votto. The Richview alumni right fully deserves the attention. Since becoming a full-time player in 2008 he has put up a total of a 120 homeruns, 403 runs batted in, and a batting average of .312 with an OPS of .954. In addition, it appears he has overcome emotionally trying issues that haunted him during his first couple of seasons. In particular, these problems were caused by an onset of depression caused by the death of his father during the early stages of his playing career.

The acquisition of Votto would have given the Blue Jays a first baseman that would match up with the best in the division.

Furthermore, his numbers surpass the likes of Mark Texeria, Carlos Pena, Mark Reynolds, and arguably Adrian Gonzalez. He would have enjoyed the prime of his career dawning Jays logo on his hat. However, with one swift move the Reds burst the bubble.

What does this mean to the Blue Jays? The answer is quite simple. It means it is time to rethink the clubs five-year-or-less policy for free agents and their own players. The team has reached to the verge of contention, thanks in large part to a minor league system that is considered a prospect gold mind. However, to sustain its potentially new found success, the team must be able to retain its homegrown stars.

Enjoy him while we got him Jay fans

For players like Jose Bautista and Brett Lawrie, the Votto extension signifies that there are teams on the open market that are willing to break the bank for a franchise player. Especially in the case of Lawrie, it will be almost impossible to sign him to a five-year contract because the market price for him could be sky high. Moreover, there is a growing trend in the MLB to sign star players to decade long contracts. In addition to the Votto extension, examples of such deals include the Troy Tulowitzki, Alex Rodriguez, and Albert Pujols contracts, as well as a nine-year deal handed out to all-world slugger and cheeseburger enthusiast Prince Fielder.

So the high school crush has moved on, however, there is still time to lock up the new girl. The Toronto Blue Jays need to pop the question to Brett Lawrie sooner than later, or risk losing another “dream girl”.

Welcome back, baseball season. In between the too-frequent outbreaks of ‘the wave’ at all the wrong moments, the YOLO streaker, and the potatoes on the field, there were some shining stars, and some regrets in the first week of Blue Jays baseball at the Rogers Centre. It’s only appropriate to name (with a hashtag) the beauty of the series, followed by someone that needs to clean it up.

#Beauty

Colby Rasmus

It’s really ‘cool’ to like Colby right now, the same way it’s ‘cool’ to like any player who is on a hot streak. The problem with the entire scenario, is that Colby has always been awesome. As Toronto fans so eloquently proved during the Opening Series after the big Santos non-save, Toronto just ain’t so great at warm welcomes (y’all).

Centre field swag

Toronto surely thought they won the trade, until Colby arrived with a sad face and put up .173/.201/.316 for the rest of his first season in the AL East through 35 games. On the other hand, we can celebrate Octavio Dotel winning the entire World Series (and being in the right place at the right time might not be so out of reach again this year in Detroit).

Sure, the country boy has a few issues of his own – like Tony LaRussa, his dad, Tony LaRussa’s feelings about his dad, his dad’s feelings about Tony LaRussa, and just wanting to hunt in Alabama, but dude is going to save Toronto a lot of runs with his full-out swag dives and panther-like tracking in centre field.

You know, sometimes homesickness and St. Louis are a bad mix. This pup just needed a new stage to shine on. I think the Jays have got a best-in-show on their hands.

#Dirty

Brett Lawrie

Look guy: everyone knows you think your balls are huge, but trying to steal home with the bases loaded and Jose Bautista at the plate, maybe watch your back. Despite Bautista acting a little too Switzerland about the whole ordeal the next day (“He just slid the wrong way…”), I can’t help but think that all Jose really wanted to do was slap him in the face  and say “YOU’RE NOT ON THE COVER OF MLB12 IN CANADA” (in Spanish).

And then, not to be outdone by himself, Lawrie tries to steal second later in the game with Arencibia at the plate on the final out of the inning. John Farrell called it a major baserunning mistake. I call it running like an asshole.

Reuters' pro photogs know how to capture the essence of stupidity.

When approached about Lawrie’s seemingly blase attitude about the errors of his ways, Farrell said he’d make sure the coaches got the message delivered again. Sounds like someone forgot to read the memo about the TPS reports.

This is a team game, cowboy. If anyone else had done that, the city would be calling for their public beheading, but the Lawrie jerseys are still alive and the bros who wear them are still drawing hearts around his name on their beer cans. YA BUDDY.

Fantasy Secrets: Drafting Tips

Posted: April 4, 2012 by centennialsports in Baseball, Fantasy Sports

By Tom Ruminski

Probably not who you want to take in the 1st round...or at all

Okay guys and girls now that we are up to date on our knowledge of impact rookies, it is time to turn our focus to the second secret that could win you your league.

Rule Number Two: Drafting by Position Strengths and Weaknesses.

First and for most, if your buddy ever tells you to draft a closer in the first round you should tell them to go f*ck themselves and possibly do this to them.

The second part of course all depends upon your relationship with such individual and/or what closer they have recommended to you.

The message is clear; closers can be had in later rounds, usually have minimal impact in head-to-head and rotisserie leagues, and are a dime a dozen. For example, injuries to closers Ryan Madson and Joakim Soria began the drama that is known as the closing carrousel, a continuous revolving cycle of relief pitchers gaining the coveted position, or losing it through injury or ineffectiveness. Fantasy owners have been burned by these two already and there is sure to be plenty more casualties in the up-coming season. In light of this, you should fill out the rest of your roster before taking care of your bullpen.

Everyone wants this guy on their Fantasy team.....well except Ubaldo Jimenez

The positions with the least amount of premium players are the ones that you want to fill out first. Accordingly, one should be looking to acquire a stud catcher, shortstop, and second baseman in the early rounds of the draft.

The shortstop position has the biggest drop of between tier one and two. As a result one should look to acquire one of Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez, or Jose Reyes with an early pick.

This is a man you should draft high

The same kind of thought process can be applied to selecting a second baseman. Moreover, owners should be looking to select Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, or Dustin Pedroia if possible. However for second base, the production drop of is not as drastic as short. In particular, Dan Uggla, Ben Zobrist, Brandon Phillips, and Michael Young are not as far of in production in comparison to the shortstop second tier, which includes such players as Starlin Castro, Elvis Andrus, and Asdrubal Cabrera. To demonstrate, the first tier second baseman averaged .288. 27.95.858, while the second-tier second baseman averaged a line of .285.18.90.800. On the other hand, the trio of Tulowitzki, Ramirez, and Reyes averaged a line of .313.19.75.882, while the second tier class had a combined line of .286.13.72.757.

The catcher position is also filled with a lot of question marks. Outside of Carlos Santana, Mike Napoli and Brian McCann, there is a limited selection of difference making backstops. In particular, Joe Mauer, Matt Wieters, and Buster Posey may all have significant fantasy value at the position, yet, provide a degree of uncertainty.

Mauer is coming off an injury-plagued year that saw him produce a line of .287.3.30.729. These numbers are way down in comparison to his career year in 2009 that saw him produce a monster line of .365.28.96.1.031.

Buster Posey will be a fantasy stud one day, however, coming into the 2012 season there is a big question mark surrounding him. First off, how will he come back from a devastating home-plate collision that left him with three torn ligaments in his left ankle and a broken bone? In addition, will he be able to produce in a weak Giants offence that finished second last in runs scored in the majors last season and had the third worst team batting average with a mark of .242.

Finally, the simple fact that Matt Wieters plays for the lowly Baltimore Orioles can raise questions. Yet, all signs point to Wieters having a solid season as he is surrounded by some good bats in Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts, and Mark Reynolds. In addition, the former fifth overall pick is coming off a career year that saw him post a line off .262.22.68.778.

This drafting strategy is of course one of many that can be applied, but I have found it the most successful so far. Next week, the third secret to success will be revealed.

Here’s a hint: look at large sample sizes over small ones.

Maddon unquestionably the game’s best

Posted: April 4, 2012 by centennialsports in Baseball

By Emma Marshall

Maddon as the best manager in baseball is not up for debate

Though once thought of as a baseball abyss by both players and coaches, the Tampa Bay Rays have become a perennial contender under the league’s most valuable manager Joe Maddon.

Unlike his predecessors, Maddon has instilled a confidence in his team that continues grow year after year.

Within three years of his appointment, Maddon led the Rays to not only their first winning season and playoff appearance, but all the way to the World Series.

Since its World Series debut, Tampa has made the playoffs in three of the past four years going toe-to-toe with American League powerhouses such as the Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers. With the outspoken Maddon leading the charge, the Rays believe they have the talent level and ability to outduel these teams, something that would never have been claimed prior to his arrival.

This newfound confidence and success has led to greater expectations, something few would have anticipated prior to Maddon’s hiring.

The attitudes of the players on the field and in the club house have changed over the six years under Maddon. In previous seasons the team has been searching for an identity or attempting to piece together a line-up, for the first time in their history the Rays are focused solely on winning and believing that they have a significant opportunity to win the World Series.

Much of this success has had to do with Maddon’s coaching method. Though most baseball managers are interchangeable with their strategies and style, Maddon prefers to be a think-outside-the-box, risk taking bench boss.

In the final game of the 2011 season, with the both the game and the playoffs on the line, Maddon elected to use Dan Johnson the third string catcher, batting only .167 on the season, as the pinch hitter. Many baseball fans and critics alike shook their heads and thought, “maybe next year,” until Johnson hit a 2-2 pitch over the right field fence to tie the game and keep the playoff drive alive.

Though Maddon is responsible for the on field performance of his players it is Andrew Friedman, the Vice President of Baseball Operations, who is largely responsible for the group of young talent that the Rays produce annually. Under Friedman the Rays have drafted talented pitchers such as David Price, Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore all of whom are projected to be starters in the Rays rotation this upcoming season.

As the Rays are constrained by an extremely low salary cap, Friedman has had to be creative in the players he has signed and traded for. Friedman has been able to trade current stars for lesser known players with significant potential such as Sean Rodriguez and Brandon Gomes.

Friedman can be applauded for drafting well but ultimately it is Maddon who is responsible for getting the rag-tag group of players to compete and win.

Perhaps Maddon’s greatest attribute as a manger is his ability to believe in his players and get the most out of them.

On a near yearly basis, the Rays are made over to maintain a low pay roll. This was never as evident as it was at the beginning of the 2011 season that saw vital team members such as Carl Crawford, Matt Garza and the entire bullpen including set-up man and closer Rafael Soriano and Joaquin Benoit depart Tampa.

Though Tampa struggled at the outset of the season, under Maddon, the group found itself and started winning. Many critics did not believe the Rays would be able to compete with perennial championship contenders the Yankees and Red Sox. Maddon’s confidence and belief in his players was a major difference maker.

Carl who?

Cast-offs such as Casey Kotchman and Kyle Farnsworth both had career years under Maddon. While rookie Desmond Jennings helped fans forget about Crawford.

Even after starting the season with a 1-8 record, Maddon continued to believe in his team and publicly decried reports of the demise of the Rays.

Instead of condemning his team, he toasted them as the best 1-8 team in major league history with an expensive bottle of whiskey. The Rays then went on to win 8 of the next 9 games.

As Tampa enters the 2012 as a legitimate contender, the Rays will need Maddon to continue his effervescent managerial style to challenge for the American League east title. Even if the team is fails to win the division, with Maddon at the helm it can be safely presumed that the Rays will continue to challenge for several seasons to come.