Talking sports while everyone else talks s#*%. Don't be haters, be Debaters!

Baseball

American League Championship Series Preview and Prediction

Image

Last weekend, I predicted a New York Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers American League Championship Series and after a week of tough, gritty baseball games, I was correct.  Before I break down the ALCS, I must give credit to where credit is due.  The Baltimore Orioles and Oakland Athletics were not supposed to have had the type of seasons either of them had.  They were both tough nosed, clutch and a lot of fun to watch.  Each team was able to grind out a Game 5, and unfortunately for the A’s and O’s, neither team could match the Ace pitchers Justin Verlander or C.C. Sabathia.  Kudos to both Buck Showalter and Bob Melvin for managing their clubs to the brink of the ALCS.  The Yankees and Tigers can breathe a sigh of relief for a few hours today, but then get back at it tonight.  In last year’s ALDS, these teams played each other evenly, however the Tigers ousted the Yankees in Game 5 in the Bronx, ending the Bomber season prematurely.  The two teams also matched up in the 2006 ALDS, which was won by Detroit in 4 games, a series remembered by Joe Torre’s decision to bat A-Rod 8th (not too much has changed). The Yankees have revenge on their minds and this is how I see the ALCS breaking down…

Image

Yankees Lineup:  Theoretically, the Yankees will have a lineup consisting of Jeter, Ichiro, Cano, Teixeria, Rodriguez, Ibanez, Swisher, Granderson, and Martin.  This lineup would consist of 3 future hall of famers and 9 players who have made All-Star games in their career.  However, the big wild card in this lineup is A-Rod.  After his Game 5 benching, it is unclear as to how much playing time he will receive in the next round.  Eric Chavez batted over .500 against Detroit this year, and the fact that all the Tigers pitchers are right handed might lead Girardi to keep Rodriguez riding the pine.  Everyone except Derek Jeter and Raul Ibanez struggled against the Orioles, especially Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson prior to his Game 5 homer.  I expect the Yankees to come out of their slump and start hitting like they are capable of.  As far as I’m concerned, it is mostly up to Robinson Cano to pick his game up, because he is the one player capable of matching the fire power that Miguel Cabrera brings to the Tigers.  This is a veteran team, lead by Derek Jeter and they will look at the Orioles series victory as a narrow escape which can lead to a chance for bigger things to happen with the bats.

Image

Detroit Tigers Lineup:  The Tigers lineup as I mentioned in the ALDS preview is very top heavy.  Miguael Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Austin Jackson and to a lesser extent Delmon Young carry the rest of the bats for Detroit.  Quinton Berry, Omar Infante, Jhonny Peralta, Andy Dirks and Alex Avila are all good ball players who do the little things necessary to set up their studs.  Peralta specifically has always done well against the Yankees, dating back to when he was a member of the Cleveland Indians.  The Tigers are not as deep as the Yankees from 1 through 9, but the power Cabrera and Fielder can bring will definitely overwhelm the Yankees if they don’t hit better than they did against Baltimore.  Even though Cabrera had the best season any of us have seen in a long time, it is Fielder’s power shooting toward the Yankee Stadium short porch that scares me the most.

Edge:  Yankees (by a narrow margin)  

Image

Yankees Starting Rotation:  The Yankees starting rotation of CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda and Phil Hughes pitched unbelievable in the ALDS.  Sabathia is currently on an 8 game winning streak and looks as good as any pitcher in the bigs.  In tonight’s Game 1, the Yankees will throw Pettitte who will be looking for his 20th postseason win in a career filled with big games.  Kuroda and Hughes will fall in line, after both threw great games against the Orioles on consecutive nights.  The Yankees have a rotation with incredible playoff experience, something that the Tigers did not see in their previous matchup with the Athletics.

Image

Tigers Starting Rotation:  Enough can’t be said about how good Justin Verlander is.  Last year’s MVP grabbed hold of his team during Game 5 in Oakland and lead them to the Bronx.  He’s an incredible weapon to have in a playoff series.  Thankfully for the Yankees, the fact that he threw Game 5 against Oakland means they probably won’t face him until Game 4, meaning they will take their shots at Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer before the see the Tigers Ace.  Last year, both Fister and Scherzer did great jobs against the Yankees in the playoffs.  Fister is a sinker baller, and fits the profile of the type of pitcher who always gives the Yanks a hard time.  Although the Yankees faced a lesser experienced rotation against the Orioles, they had a hard time generating any offense, which leads me to believe their struggles could very well continue against a better Tigers rotation.

Edge:  Detroit Tigers (by a narrow margin)

Image

Yankees Bullpen:  If Mariano Rivera was in this version of the Yankee bullpen, some might say it is the best they’ve had in years.  Rafael Soriano has done an incredible job filling in for Mo this year, which he carried into the Baltimore series.  David Robertson was unbelievable in the Oriole series as well, pitching flawless baseball in tight extra inning games.  In fact, everyone that Joe Girardi called on against the Orioles did their job to the best of their ability.  Boone Logan looked great against lefties and I’m sure he’s already visualizing any future at-bats against Prince.  David Phelps, Joba Chamberlain and the veteran Derek Lowe round out a bullpen that has done a fantastic job all year long filling in for their injured closer.

Image

Tigers Bullpen:  Jose Valverde is the most annoying pitcher on the planet.  He dances, celebrates and frustrates his opponents, especially the Yankees in recent years.  We saw Valverde experience a bit of a hick-up against the Oakland A’s, as he surrendered 3 runs to Oakland in the 9th inning  of Game 4 to force a Game 5 and therefore lose Justin Verlander for Game 1 tonight.  The Tigers will set-up Valverde up with hard throwing Joaquin Benoit, the young and arrogant Al Alburquerque, ex-Yankee Phil Coke, veteran pitcher Octavio Dotel and demoted starter Rick Porcello.  The Tigers bullpen isn’t nearly as spectacular as the pen the Yankees just defeated in Baltimore, though a lot of these pitchers, especially Valverde, Benoit and Porcello have given the Yankees problems in the past.

Edge:  Yankees

Image

Prediction for the Series:  This will be a close series, similar to last year in which each team will be limited offensively.  If the Yankees bats heat up a little bit, they will win fairly easily.  If they hit like they did against Baltimore, the Tigers will win fairly easily.  I expect something sort of in between.  The Yankees are too good offensively to hit as they did in the ALDS as an entire team.  I don’t think they will instantly be a team that catches fire, but they will certainly improve.  The Tigers have scrappy players who will set up Cabrera and Fielder, who will certainly inflict some levels of damage in this series.  Against almost every team in the league, Justin Verlander has the clear advantage, though the Yankees countering more of CC Sabathia closes the gap immensely.  These games will be close and will come down to late inning heroics and solid bullpen play.  In 2009, the Yankees had to jump over the Angels to capture their 27th World Series Championship, an Angel team who had beaten them in previous playoffs regularly.  This time around, the Yankees need to get past another opponent in Detroit who has been a thrown as their side for some time now.  It will be a close series but the Yankees will prevail in 7 games in front of the Bronx faithful.  Yankees in 7.


National League Division Series Previews

With yesterday’s controversial St. Louis Cardinals victory over the Atlanta Braves in the Wild Card play-in, the stage is set for the first round of the National League Division Series.  Out of the 4 remaining NL playoff teams, only one of them is in unfamiliar territory.  The inexperienced Washington Nationals are looking to continue their magical run under the supervision of seasoned manager, Davey Johnson.  As for the San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds, each of these teams have been in this position within the past few years and they all know what the playoff hot seat feels like.  Here is my previews and predictions on how I feel these divisional games will go down, and who will be battling it out for the NLCS.

Washington Nationals vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Perennial bottom dwellers of the NL East, the Washington Nationals have changed their reputation by not only winning their division, but finishing with the best record in all of baseball (98-64).  I want to start by apologizing for predicting, before the season started, that the Nats would continue their past trends by finishing with a reverse record of what they actually ended up with.  The Nationals are in extremely unfamiliar territory as they have never made the playoffs since moving from Montreal to Washington in 2005.  While there were a lot of analysts that predicted the Nats to be a competitive team this year, not one of them thought they would finish with the best record in baseball.  The Nationals finished in the top 10 in the National League in pretty much every offensive category, but what brought them to the playoffs was their stellar pitching.  Washington finished with the 2nd best ERA, BAA and WHIP in the NL and were lights out from the beginning of the season till the end.  One problem with the amazing pitching that propelled the Nats all season long is that their Ace, Stephen Strasburg, is no longer active.  That is why the team will rely heavily on Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman and Edwin Jackson.  Gio is looking like the best Free Agent signing of the last off-season as he has remained in the NL Cy Young talks all season long.  Even with the great pitching, we all know that Washington is going to have to find some help in the batting category, so they are hoping that the career year from Adam LaRoche (33 HR 100 RBI) continues through the playoffs.

I still can’t believe that the St. Louis Cardinals are even in the playoffs.  After losing their franchise’s greatest player ever, Albert Pujols, and also one of the baseball’s best ever managers, Tony LaRussa, everyone thought that the Cardinals reign as a perennial NL contender would be over.  Not so fast.  While the Nationals did finish with the best record in baseball, I can guarantee that the Cards prefer this matchup over the other two teams in the NL mainly because of Washington’s inexperience in the playoffs.  Let’s not forget that the Cardinals are the defending World Series Champions, so they would have to be the team to beat in the playoffs this year.  Even without Pujols, the Cardinals were a fantastic offensive team this year.  They led the entire NL in OBP (.338) and made sure to bring those runners in by having the 5th most runs scored in the league (765).  Most of the Cardinals starting lineup are relatively young so veterans Yadier Molina, Matt Holiday and Carlos Beltran are all going to have to step up big time against these tough pitchers that the Nats will be throwing at them.   Outside of Kyle Lohse, the Cards pitching staff has been pretty inconsistent, especially their Ace, Adam Wainwright.  Rookie manager and former Cardinals player, Mike Matheny, should be in the talks for NL Manager of the year, but I think that Davey Johnson will win that honor because of what he did with Washington.

Prediction:  There really isn’t much history between these two teams for me to base my predictions on, so I will go solely on my analysis of each team.  The Nationals story has been an amazing one all season long and since they are representing my NL East I will definitely be secretly cheering for them.  Unfortunately, I am a firm believer,  especially in MLB, that experience in the playoffs gives your respective team a huge advantage.  That being said, I have to pick the Cardinals pesky bats and playoff bred team to squeak by the Nationals in what I believe will be the most exciting of all 4 division series matchups.  Cardinals in 5

Cincinnati Reds vs. San Francisco Giants 

This series has got to be Dusty Baker’s biggest nightmare.  The former San Fran manager and current Reds skipper came so close to winning the World Series nearly a decade ago while leading the Giants.  Now in the opposite dugout, Dusty hopes to have his team finally win that coveted World Series trophy.  The Reds had a great season this year and easily won the NL Central.  Cincinnati went about their winning ways with exceptional pitching and some good old-fashioned defense.  Their offense was pretty abysmal for the majority of the season and their offensive woes weren’t helped by their best hitter, Joey Votto, being sidelined with an injury for an extended period of time.  Entering this divisional series, the Reds are completely healthy and ready to take on the 2010 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants.  Led by NL Cy Young candidate, Johnny Cueto, the Reds will rely heavily on their pitching to help them to the next level.  Veterans, Brandon Philipps and Scott Rolen, will need to use their experience to help the young Reds stay focused and continue to play the smart baseball that has pushed them to success all season long.

The San Francisco Giants are in very familiar territory having just won it all two seasons ago.  The Giants found success all season long with a steady balance of offense and defense.  The Giants coach, Bruce Bochy, stated that he was thrilled when his team clinched their division early so he could rest the players he wanted to and make sure he was at full strength entering the playoffs.  While I agree with Bochy’s attitude, his 2010 winning Giants hadn’t clinched their playoff position until the final game of that season…hmmmm.  The Giants had a tough battle all year with  the Los Angeles Dodgers biting at their heals until the final month of the season when the Giants eventually pulled away.  The NL West rivalry reached epic heights when both teams attacked the trade deadline like it was win or die this season.  The Giants acquired Hunter Pence, who has been a solid position player for them since.  San Fran is really going to need some of their bats to step up and fill the shoes of PED user Melky Cabrera.  Even though hippie favorite, Tim Lincecum had an awful season this year, I feel he will be prepared to help his Giants in their playoff rotation.  Matt Cain had an inconsistent ending to the 2012 regular season, but as the Giants Ace, he is going to have to put those struggles behind him and find a way to succeed against the tough Cincinnati Reds.  Buster Posey and Pablo “Panda” Sandoval are going to have to be the difference makers for a Giants lineup that truly does not have a bona fide superstar.

Prediction:  This matchup is going to be very competitive and will provide both of these teams fans some amazing baseball.  I feel that the outcome of the series will be determined in the first game as Johnny Cueto and Matt Cain face off.  I think that the momentum from the winning team of game 1 will propel them to a series victory and I think that team is going to be the Cincinnati Reds.  Reds in 4   


American League Division Series Previews

Image

With last night’s Baltimore victory over the Texas Rangers in the Wild Card play-in, the stage is set for the first round of the American League Division Series.  This year’s field includes teams that weren’t supposed to be in the postseason (Orioles, A’s), the all-time great postseason franchise (Yankees) and a team who has been knocking on the door for a while but has been unable to pull through (Tigers). Below is my prediction for who will be playing in the next round for a shot at the World Series.

Image

Yankees vs. Orioles:  

These two teams battled all the way to the last day of the regular season for the AL East Crown, so it’s only fitting they matchup in the first round of the playoffs.

Image

In the past few postseasons, the Yankees have been unable to get the big hit with RISP, something that also plagued them in the 2012 regular season.  They are a team that relies heavily on the HR, but in the playoffs, that recipe often fails.  During their stretch run, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson caught fire, and the Yankees will need the two of them to drive in Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki, who have done a wonderful job setting the table.  The Yankees pitching will be lead by C.C. Sabathia, who had an up and down year but is still a bona-fide ace.  The Yankees biggest question mark might be one that has never been an issue before, as Mariano Rivera is replaced by Rafael Soriano this time around.  Though Soriano had a wonderful year recording 42 saves, nobody can truly fill in for the great Mariano.  The Yankees are hoping that Soriano does a serviceable and the supporting cast takes care of the rest.

The Orioles were supposed to fade a long time ago.  The AL East was supposed to be a three-horse race, which it turned out to be, though the Orioles took the place held by the Boston Red Sox for the past decade.  Though they don’t do anything particularly spectacular in either their lineup or starting rotation, this team has found ways to win all season long.  The Orioles are an inexperienced playoff team, which didn’t seem to faze them at all as they ousted to Texas Rangers in the play-in game last night.  ImageAdam Jones and Matt Wieters will need to carry their offense through this series, and the presence of rookie Manny Machado provides the Orioles with a young 5 tool player in the making.  While the Orioles don’t have a pitcher of the Justin Verlander caliber, they have a rotation that has given Manager Buck Showalter a chance in every game this season.  Wei Yin-Chen, Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman have all put up solid seasons in a tough division.  Oriole closer Jim Johnson converted a stellar 51 saves this year, blowing only 3 which was a main reason for their extra inning dominance.

Image

Predicition:  The Yankees and Orioles know each other well.  The Yankees have the players who have been here before, know what to expect and have the rings to prove it.  While I believe the Orioles have been gritty and shocked us all to get to this point, their run will end in the Bronx.  The Orioles pitches haven’t faced a monster like October baseball in Yankee Stadium and they will prove to be in over their heads:  Yankees in 4.

Image

Tigers vs. Athletics

The AL Central Champion Tigers and AL West Champion Athletics both fought up-hill most of the season to reach this point.  While the Tigers were disappointing most of the season as they chased down the Chicago White Sox, the Oakland A’s were the biggest surprise in baseball as they posted the best record since the All-Star break and catapulted over both the Texas Rangers and Anaheim Angels.

Image

The Athletics are led by Cuban Rookie Yoenis Cespedes, who jumped into the #3 hole and blasted 23 HRs while hitting .292 and stealing 16 bags.  Brandon Moss and Josh Reddick, who was traded from the Boston Red Sox for Andrew Bailey last offseason, protected Cespedes in a lineup featuring players that casual baseball fans don’t know about.  Like the Baltimore Orioles, the Oakland A’s don’t necessarily feature an Ace, but have been winning all season long with a solid cast of pitchers who were relatively unknown.  Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone and A.J. Griffin will all be getting the ball in the first playoff series, as most of their rotation will be making their postseason debut.  Grant Balfour was reinserted in the closer role in August and killed it for Oakland, nailing down 17 straight saves as the A’s caught the Rangers.  He will need to continue his success, as Oakland isn’t the type of team who will blow anybody out.

Image

As mentioned before, the Detroit Tigers had a fairly disappointing season.  After losing in the ALCS last year, they signed free agent Prince Fielder and  were expected the blow the AL Central away.  They got off to a slow start and finally caught Chicago in the last two weeks, clinching the division with just a few games left.  Lead by the Triple Crown winning Miguel Cabrera, the Detroit Tigers are a top-heavy team that relies on their stars to carry them.  Prince Fielder and Austin Jackson helped Miggy provide the offensive punch for a team that has perhaps the best pitcher in the game.  Having Justin Verlander in a short series is a huge advantage.  The reigning AL MVP put up another unbelievable season, notching 17 wins and posting a 2.84 ERA.  When Detroit can start him twice in a short series, and fill in the other spots with reliable Doug Fister and somewhat unpredictable Max Scherzer, they feature a rotation unmatched by any in the AL.  Their closer Jose Valverde always make Tigers fan sweat, but does a good job closing the deal more often than not.

Image

Prediction:  Both these teams had to play good ball down the stretch to find themselves in the playoffs.  The Oakland A’s have been on a magical ride all season long, as Bob Melvin is easily the Manager of the Year in the AL.  However, the Tigers have more experience and more fire power in both their lineup and pitching staff.  Like the Orioles, the A’s magical ride comes to an end, but not before they put up a good fight:  Tigers in 5. 


Questionable decision making by Buck Showalter?

The starters for tonight’s American League winner-take-all wildcard game have been tagged and I’m scratching my head over Buck Showalter’s decision to start Joe Saunders.  When you see Joe Saunders vs. Yu Darvish the very first word that should come to mind is mismatch.  Yu Darvish had a very good first year in the major leagues going 16-9 while striking out 221 hitters in 191.1 IP.  His 3.90 ERA is a bit high for a “staff ace” but his xFIP of 3.52 would suggest he was hurt by pitching half his games in the hitter friendly confines of Arlington Ballpark.  Joe Saunders on the other hand was 9-13 while striking out 112 hitters in 174.2 IP.  His ERA of 4.07 was close to that of Darvish but given that his xFIP was 4.25 he was not nearly as effective in the starting pitching role in 2012. 

Despite the pedestrian numbers posted by Saunders he does do one thing extremely well, which is he gets left-handed hitters out.  Lefties are hitting just .198/.222/.229 against Saunders this year.  Now if this were 2008 and Saunders was facing the Philadelphia Phillies I’d tip my cap to Buck for putting a mediocre pitcher in a big game in order to neutralize a lineup held together by lefty power hitters (most notably Chase Utley and Ryan Howard).  But this isn’t 2008 and he’s not facing the Phillies tonight.  He’s facing the 2012 Texas Rangers who are a heavily right-handed team with the exception of Josh Hamilton.  In fact all Ron Washington has to do is bench David Murphy and Mitch Moreland tonight and he can run out a lineup of 8 right-handed hitters and Josh Hamilton to absolutely pummel Joe Saunders and the Baltimore Orioles.  And since David Murphy and Mitch Moreland are not Chase Utley and Ryan Howard there is no reason to doubt this is exactly what Ron will do.  His lineup should look something like this: 

  1. SS – Elvis Andrus (.971)
  2. 2B – Ian Kinsler (1.464)
  3. RF – Josh Hamilton (1.317)
  4. 3B – Adrian Beltre (.680)
  5. LF – Nelson Cruz (.950)
  6. 1B – Michael Young (1.045)
  7. DH – Mike Napoli (n/a)
  8. C – Geovany Soto (2.083)
  9. CF – Craig Gentry (n/a)

The numbers in parentheses represent the career OPS for each respective hitter against Joe Saunders (Napoli and Gentry have never faced him).  As you can see all of these guys, with the exception of Beltre, have absolutely raked against Saunders.  I hate to question Showalter who’s led these Orioles to an impressive playoff berth through timely hitting and 16 extra inning wins in a row but this decision seems downright foolish to me.  Let’s hope he’s got some more magic up his sleeve come 8:37 PM EST tonight.

~Ben Hale


Baseball’s Incredible 2012 Stories


Sports Debaters MLB Regular Season Awards

On the final day of the 2011-2012 MLB season the Sports Debaters have decided to announce our predictions for all of the most important end of season awards.

AL MVP- Miguel Cabrera:

In his amazing career, Ted Williams won the Triple Crown Award twice, but finished 2nd in the MVP voting both years.  This will NOT be the case this year.  Miguel Cabrera has had a stellar season and is in the drivers seat to win the first Triple Crown Award since 1967.  On the year, Cabrera has hit career highs with both 44 HRs and 139 RBIs and he is sporting a .331 batting average.  His OPS is a remarkable 1.002, which is his third straight year over 1.000.  He has lead the Tigers to the postseason with minimal help from his teammates, (outside of Prince Fielder) as the Tigers clinched the AL Central for the 2nd straight season.  There is little doubt that he deserves this award.

NL MVP-  Ryan Braun:

With the before mentioned Prince Fielder leaving Milwaukee last offseason, most baseball experts predicted Ryan Braun to have a down year, as he lost his protection in the lineup.  Last year’s MVP had a rough offseason, being found guilty of PEDs, fought the allegations and they turned out to be false.  He came into the 2012 season with much to prove, as the Brewers were truly his team to carry. Going into the final night, he has put up a league high 41 HRs, 112 RBIs and a .320 batting average.  The Brewers had a very disappointing first half and many thought they were out of contention by the All-Star Break.  They ended up a few games over .500 and narrowly missed the Wild Card by just 4 games.  Though Andrew McCutchen, Joey Votto and Buster Posey all had great years in their own rights, Ryan Braun did enough to clinch his 2nd straight NL MVP.

 

 

AL Cy Young- David Price:

In a baseball season that saw a record 7 no-hitters, many pitchers left their mark on the mound.  While the Tampa Bay Rays were plagued with injuries to their lineup all year, their pitching carried them through the season.  Though the Rays came up just short in a competitive AL East, their current 89-72 record is nothing to be ashamed off.  Price’s .256 ERA is a career low and was the best in the AL.  He finished with a 20-5 record, making him one of only 2 AL pitchers to reach this plateau.   Considering the lack of talent the Rays lineup threw out compared to a team like the Anaheim Angles, David Price has earned the Cy Young in a narrow victory over Jered Weaver.

NL Cy Young- R.A. Dickey:

When my partner in crime, matthewtodderich told me that R.A. Dickey would win the NL Cy Young back in April, I could do nothing but laugh.  Now it is time to admit that I was dead wrong.  R.A. Dickey has redefined the knuckle ball, and as a result he was able to redefine his career.  On a Mets team that started off strong, but faded miserably through the summer months, R.A. Dickey was amazing throughout.  Dickey’s closest competitors for this award were Gio Gonzalez, Johnny Cueto and Clayton Kershaw, who all pitched on competitive teams that offered run support.  Dickey finished with a .273 ERA, a 1.05 WHIP and 20 wins, placing him in the top three NL pitchers in each.  During his “Disney Movie” like season, he lead the NL in strikeouts, throwing 230 strikeouts to only 54 walks (4:1), an unheard of number ratio for a knuckleballer.  Not sure how matthewtodderich predicted this performance, but I need to give credit where credit is due.

AL Rookie of the Year- Mike Trout:

With a performance that would have landed him the MVP in many other seasons, Mike Trout will have to settle for a constellation prize of AL Rookie of the Year.  Trout came up to the big leagues in late April and took the league by storm.  A legitimate 5 tool player, Trout showed off his speed, defense and power as soon as he landed in The Show.  Coming into tonight, he has an amazing .324 BA, 30 HRs, 89 RBIs and 49 Steals.  Considering he played his first month with the Salt Lake Bees of the Triple A Pacific Coast League, his final totals would have been even more impressive.  Last offseason the Anaheim Angels thought they may have acquired a potential AL MVP, but they probably figured it would be Albert Pujols.  I would imagine that Mike Trout will parlay this season into many MVPs in the future.

NL Rookie of the Year- Wade Miley:

Back in June, everybody in the world stated that National outfielder Bryce Harper would take home the NL Rookie of the Year award.  That’s because nobody had even heard of Arizona Diamondback’s pitcher Wade Miley.  As a team, Arizona was fairly irrelevant  most of the season, though the discovery of a young ace provides hope for the future.  He finishes with a 3.33 ERA, 16 wins and a 1.18 WHIP, stellar numbers for a first year pitcher.  Miley portrayed great control, giving up only 37 walks to his 144 strikeouts.  Though most baseball fans had never heard of Wade Miley coming into the 2012 season, this Rookie of the Year will surely be a household name for years to come.


AL East Up For Grabs

This is about as close as it gets.  With 6 games left, the New York Yankees have the slimmest of division leads over the Baltimore Orioles, as they enter play tonight with a mere 1 game advantage.  Tampa Bay is only 4 games out of first as well, meaning there is a lot to be determined in the next week.  The New York Yankees play three games against two out of contention teams, Toronto and Boston.  While each of these opponents have had a disappointing season, we all know that both of them would love to help contribute in the Yankees losing out in the divisional race.  It is up to the Bronx Bombers to make sure that it doesn’t happen!

ImageThankfully for the Yankees, the Orioles and Rays will play each other the final three games of the season, meaning if they take care of their business, there is a good chance those two squads will knock inflict enough damage to the other to allow the Yanks to escape with the crown.  In years past, making the playoffs as the Wild Card was just as effective as clinching a division, but with this years rule change of a Wild Card play-in game, the importance of capturing the division has never been greater.

Image

The Yankees have a lot of question marks this year.  The recent woes of both Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova lead the team to believe they really don’t have a fourth starter.  The bats have been criticized to be all of nothing, that is if the Yanks don’t hit HRs, they don’t usually win.  However, I believe their solid record against both the Red Sox and Blue Jays this year will stay true to form during the last 6 games.  During a season in which the Yankees have been ravaged by injuries, it is looking as if their health might be at an all-time high entering the post season.  Andy Pettitte and Brett Gardner (in a defensive and pinch running role) have recently rejoined the club, and now the Yanks eagerly wait for Mark Teixeira to battle back from his ailment.

Image

Once the Yankees make it into the playoffs, I truly feel they would be a tough out for any opponent.  The ability to throw CC, Andy and the overachieving Hiroki Kuroda in the first three games of any series will keep the Yankees in any series.  If players like Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher and ARod can somehow snap out of some of their recent woes, which they are all capable of, the Yanks still have as potent of an offense as their is in baseball.  The acquisition of Ichiro Suzuki seems to have invigorated the veteran outfielder, and his recent contributions are a huge reason they are still in first place today.  If all these guys follow the lead of their captain and carry themselves like Jeter does in October, I still like my Yankees chances to capture the crown.

Image

The next week will be fascinating to watch.  I’ll admit that I thought Baltimore would have fallen back by now, but they have played unbelievable in September.  I figured Tampa Bay would be a factor until the end, but definitely did not figure the pesky O’s would be so hard to shake.  To me, this is the greatest time of the sports calendar and I can’t wait to watch this story, and the other races around the big leagues unfold.  My Yankee fandom allows me to always stay optimistic  (the polar opposite feeling I have when thinking about my Jets), and I truly believe when the dust settles, the Yankees will remind everyone what organization will always prevail over all others.  The playoffs basically start tonight and I’m excited to see how all these teams respond.  Enjoy your hardball!


Is that C.C. Making Love in the Middle Stall?

Over the weekend, the New York Yankees were taking on the Tampa Rays in extremely meaningful games with first place on the line.  However, the best action of the day might have been taking place in the mens room, as a couple had passionate Yankee Stadium sex for the better part of two and a half innings!  At first, the suspect appeared to be C.C. Sabathia, but after closer examination it turned out to be a skinny white guy in a Sabathia t-shirt.  Check it out below:

First of all, I’m sure the girl’s father must be so proud.  If only all of our daughters could grow up to have sex at some bathroom in the South Bronx.  Second of all, if the rumors are true, then dude lasted a solid 45 to an hour.  Reggie Jackson has the nickname Mr. October, Derek Jeter inherited Mr. November and I think it’s time we go ahead and crown this guy Mr. September.  That is how you come up big during a pennant race!  Last but not least, why are there people in the bathroom taking pictures and video?  You bought a ticket to see a Yankee game and decided to hang out in the bathroom and watch two youngsters in heat?  Next time, stay home and search the internet if that’s the kind of entertainment you are yearning.  Overall, another great example of how sports, alcohol and smart phones bring out the best our society has to offer..

Base balling been berry berry good to me…