Sunday, May 10, 2009

baseball power rankings

10. Philadelphia Phillies (15-13): Losing two out of three at home against the Braves proves that this just isn't going to be the Phillies season. Capping the schadenfreude department though: Champion Douchebag Shane Victorino was 0 for 13 in the three-game series.
9. Detroit Tigers (16-13) -You've already got in Justin Verlander, (2-0 0.56 ERA in May) the hottest pitcher in baseball and now on the horizon you've got Jeremy Bonderman and D-Train making minor league starts and prepping to join the team again. By the All-Star break this team could be cruising to the AL Central lead.
8. Tampa Bay Rays (15-17)- Other than Evan Longoria (AL MVP candidate) and Carlos Pena, the Rays haven't hit much this season. Once their bats catch up with their pitching this team can still overtake the entire AL East again.
7. LA Dodgers (22-10)- but for the shame and resultant lack of run production to follow after the Manny Cheater was outed and suspended, this team would be ranked much higher however, their streak is over, time to make way for the ....? Hmmm, maybe there are no teams in the NL West to overtake the Dodgers, even without Manny.
6. New York Mets (16-13)- 7 game winning streak against Braves, Phillies and Pirates have given the Mets the sort of push forward that might just change their season.
5. Milwaukee Brewers (18-13)- The Brewers concluded a stretch of playing games on 20 consecutive days - the maximum allowed in the collective bargaining agreement - with a 14-6 record.
4. Kansas City Royals (18-13)- now that Greinke's magical streak has ended, will this spell the end of Royals dreams for the season?
3. Boston Red Sox (19-12): Without the Yankees to beat up on the Sox are just another team.
2. St Louis Cardinals (19-12): This team is still Pujols and a Bunch of Other Guys nobody's ever heard of outside of Missouri but somehow La Russa keeps them going. On track to win their division, watch out for them even in the post season. They win no matter what happens to the team.
1. Toronto Blue Jays (21-12) They didn't go away after the first hot week or so and they don't appear ready to go away now. Cito Gaston may be managing the Rays of 2009.

Manny joined the growing list of named and shamed baseball cheats this week when he was suspended for 50 games for using Performance Enhancing Drugs.

So he doesn't need to have hip surgery forced upon him to get out of the spotlight like A-Hole did at the beginning of this season before he came back to produce another tainted homer in his first at-bat.

You hear what that means, scumbag Red Sox fans? It means your little World Series victories are tainted. The Curse is still on. You can kid yourselves about it but the reality is, without Manny, you weren't going to win even one World Series let alone two.

And you know what it means to the Dodgers, who struggled all off season with Manny's Arsehole Agent to sign him to a realistic contract? It means the Dodgers' amazing home winning streak ended and immediately ended turning into a two game losing streak. Not the end of the Dodgers season though. Still, it makes the NL West more interesting. And why is 50 games enough? Why not a lifetime ban? Why are any of the steroid cheats getting more chances? Why is A-Rod playing for that matter?

Joke. Enforcement is a joke. Otherwise we'd all be watching Triple A ballplayers now as the regulars, the stars would by and large all be suspended or banned.

But, as Bill Simmons points out, baseball just turned it's head because we liked what the roids were bringing. (Especially World Championships for the Sox...)

"You don't understand what it was like to follow baseball before you were born. There was a strike in 1994, and the World Series was canceled. Everyone hated baseball. Then Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa started hitting homers, and the balls started flying out of the park, and it was so much fun that everyone looked the other way. We didn't care that these guys were practically busting out of their skin or growing second foreheads. We really didn't. All the cheating made baseball more fun to watch. We were in denial. It was weird.

"Then, Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs in a season, and that was like the turning point. We realized that things had gone too far. We blamed him for cheating and looked the other way with dozens of other guys who might have been doing the same thing. Brady Anderson hit 50 homers in 1996; we didn't care. Bret Boone had 141 RBIs in a season; we didn't care. Big Papi went from 10 homers to 41 in four seasons; we didn't care. Roger Clemens was washed up, but suddenly he could throw 98 miles per hour and win Cy Youngs again; we didn't care. Eric Gagne saved 84 straight games and threw 120 miles an hour; we didn't care. Good players started blowing out tendons nobody had ever heard of; we didn't care. Pitchers blew out elbow tendons and shoulder ligaments routinely; we didn't care. This was the deal. They cheated; we pretended they didn't. It's really hard to explain unless you were there."

I think that sums it up nicely. Then again, we weren't "aware" of this stuff at the time it was happening. That's the insiders. THEY knew. THEY didn't care. We as fans were just left to deal with the aftermath but yes, I remember the Sosa and McGwire season, the excitement about their homer launching pads. No one at the time said but hey, they're on steroids and they're numbers are artificial, inflated. We still innocently believed this was some magical force over baseball. Not cheating. Not taking drugs to enhance their performances. We were idiots. How could something so good be free? Of course not.

We should really hate baseball for being so cynical to turn its head away like it did, just for the chance to make money, generate fan interest after greed had nearly ruined the sport. But we don't. We can't even bring ourselves to hate the cheaters who get caught. We just nod knowingly. Of course he was a cheat, look at his numbers.

Still, always thought Ortiz was the likelier roider than Manny.


Interesting following The Hunt For the Ball That Launched The Shot Heard Round The World

“Miracle Ball” contends that a rebellious, baseball-crazy nun named Sister Helen Rita had violated Felician order rules to attend the game and was sitting in the left-field stands when Thomson's homer cleared the wall.

Pafko at the wall...

Sunday, May 03, 2009


Jesse Spector's look at baseball after one month shares plenty of data:

Seven teams - the Angels, Astros, Cubs, Mets, Nationals, Phillies and White Sox - did not have a starting pitcher record an out in the eighth inning of a game this April, as the longest outings by the starters of each of those clubs had been seven innings. Not surprisingly, the combined record of those teams were 64-83.

from Paul Hagen's round up in the Philly Daily News:

Brewers righthander Yovani Gallardo. He took a perfect game into the fifth against the Pirates on Wednesday. He struck out a career-high 11. He pitched eight shutout innings. And, by the way, he homered in the seventh to give himself a 1-0 win.

Milwaukee manager Ken Macha generally begins his postgame interview session with a brief recap of the game. It was especially to the point this time: "Hitting: Gallardo. Pitching: Gallardo. Any questions?"

Not quite as good, but yesterday, Ted Lilly struck out 10 and knocked in a pair of his own. He became the first Cubs pitcher with 10-plus strikeouts and 2-plus RBIs in a single game since Mark Prior on Sept. 21, 2005.

But the best hit by a pitcher was probably the one laid out on the ump by a high school pitcher:

Whether criminal charges will be pressed against the pitcher remains to be seen, but there is no doubt, according to multiple witnesses, that he landed a powerful punch on the base umpire's jaw, dropping him to the infield dirt.

After he allowed all 23 of Southern's runs, the pitcher was picked off second base in the bottom half of the fifth.

Penn coach Dennis Sheedy and the parent of a Southern player contended time was out at that juncture, and that the pickoff should not have counted.

According to several adults, the player cursed out the umpire, Mark Lumpkin, and delivered a powerful punch to his jaw.

The parent of a Southern player, who wished to remain anonymous, said Lumpkin "definitely got clocked. The first time he tried to get up, he couldn't do it. He did the second time, but was still shaky."

Jayson Stark, as usual, full o' facts:

in the wild-card era (1995-2008), just 20 of the 112 playoff teams (18 percent) were under .500 -- yes, even one game under -- at the end of April.

Zack Greinke wins this prestigious non-trophy. All Greinke did was go four consecutive starts and 43 straight innings before allowing an earned run -- making him the first American League pitcher in the past 97 seasons to allow zero earned runs in his first four starts of a season. And Greinke ended the month at 5-0 with an insane ERA of 0.50. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that since the invention of earned runs in 1912, Greinke is only the third pitcher to win at least five games in April and have an ERA that small. The others: Walter Johnson (5-0, 0.24) in 1913 and Fernando Valenzuela (5-0, 0.20) in 1981.

Lastly, watch out for this guy coming to KC Royals pretty soon - maybe another reason they might be favoured to maintain their current pace and win their division:

Right-hander Luke Hochevar improved to 5-0 and lowered his earned-run average to 1.13 by pitching a seven-inning shutout Saturday night for Class AAA Omaha in an 8-0 victory at Nashville in the first game of a double-header.

Hochevar threw just 79 pitches and allowed only two hits, both singles, in striking out five and walking three.