Thursday, September 29, 2011

The MLB Postseason Slant for 2011 - SHOCKtoberfest

I seriously think I blinked twice and September is pretty much over. That's how fast the postseason is here.

Of course, the regular season didn't leave without a couple of fights to the finish. We had both Wild Card divisions in a war on Wednesday night, and the smoke cleared with two teams coming from behind.

Aw man, I love this time of the year: chilly weather, the return of all pumpkin-flavored things, crunchy leaves, my birthday (duh), Halloween, and most of all...the MLB playoffs. This is when you see the best facing the best in America's game.
(It's also a good time for bars because you have this, Oktoberfest, and football going on.)

Anyway, this is also the exciting time of the year when I give my slant on the contenders in this playoff year and give my views on who is the candidate most likely winning either MVP or Cy Young.
Play some awesome music for me. I won't choose it for you this time. (:-P)

2011 MLB Postseason

I'd like to call this an "NBA-style season" because there were some divisions that were incredibly close or just a complete bust about two weeks after the All-Star Break. This is also one of the interesting occasions that every team in postseason has at least 90 wins or more. You always have at least one team with 87 or 88 wins. Anyway, let's do this crazy thing.

National League Contenders

Philadelphia Phillies (102-60) - Once you see their starting rotation in Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Oswalt, and Worley, you think, "Aw man, these guys are going to be tough." Then you see their bullpen...and think differently. After winning their fifth-straight NL East title, they're aiming to go back to the big dance. Let's just hope the lineup stays healthy and consistent so that they can make it that far. Let's go eat?

Milwaukee Brewers (96-66) - These guys are a well-rounded team that could be absolutely dangerous--especially at Miller Park (their home field). They will have their flaws at times, but with a good mix of veterans and not-veterans (what was I going to put there?), they've got the juice to really surprise anyone. Zack Greinke, Ryan Braun, and Prince Fielder are totally going to shake things up at home this postseason.

Arizona Diamondbacks (94-68) - These guys have improved immensely over the past few years. Sure, they were stellar back in '07, but then they dropped off the face of the planet for a few years. Now they've returned with smarter offense and an excellent bullpen (J.J. Putz, anyone?), they're not going to go away quietly in the postseason. One last thing, Kirk Gibson for manager of the year. He made a slump-happy team a load of winners.

[Wild Card] St. Louis Cardinals (90-72) - Holy heck. After a roller coaster season filled with injury and disagreement, the Cards were determined to fight through thick and thin to make the playoffs, and it all paid off. It wasn't easy, but Chris Carpenter and the mean 3-4-5 of Pujols, Holliday, and Berkman speared through. Although the record doesn't prove their worth compared to the other NL teams, they can really make life difficult and upset you.

American League Contenders

New York Yankees (97-65) - I guess you can say that a postseason may not be a postseason if the Yankees don't poke their heads in somehow. Regardless, their offense is effective as always with Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, and Curtis Granderson. I'm assuming they're not having any "problems" with their starting rotation either. Rookie Ivan Nova is making a name for himself (more on him later), and CC Sabathia is your average threat to kill you in some way. Deh-deh-dehhnehnehh-New Yorrrrk New Yorrrrrrk....

Detroit Tigers (95-67) - Just because these guys are in possibly the weakest division in the league, that doesn't mean they're not going to make it past the ALDS. It's not only Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera helping the team out either. They had a huge surge in power and defense in the second half of the season, and they have the juice to surprise anyone. Dare I say World Series bound? No, I don't want to jinx.

Texas Rangers (96-66) - They're baaaaaaack. As they should be. There's nothing seriously different about the team since last year except Cliff Lee, to be honest. The last thing I'd want to see is to see them try too hard to get back to the World Series. As long as the starting rotation remains focused, the top hitters on Texas' squad should follow suit. It's that easy. They had stellar teamwork last year--let's just hope they remember how to go about it.

[Wild Card] Tampa Bay Rays (91-71) - Fun fact, I had the Boston Red Sox saved in this spot for two weeks. That's how pleasantly surprised I am that the Rays made it to the postseason. Hard work and determination is an understatement for these guys. The pitching can be great when it wants to be, and their hitting/defense is well-feared in guys like Evan Longoria, B.J. Upton, and Johnny Damon. I like their chances again this postseason.


Individual Winners

NL MVP - Matt Kemp (Los Angeles Dodgers) - This one wasn't really hard because there wasn't really anybody else who "stood out" in the NL at all this year except for Kemp. Although it doesn't look like the stats did a lot because he's on a lower-ranked team in LA, he's been in contention for the NL triple crown for the whole season. Heck, his offense was some of the only stuff keeping the Dodgers alive at one point. If he doesn't get MVP, God only knows what the voters were getting high on before the voting process

NL Cy Young - Roy Halladay (Philadelphia Phillies) - This was so hard to predict. You have Cliff Lee, who is a two-time NL Pitcher of the Month, Roy Halladay, who is last year's CY winner, and Clayton Kershaw, a heavily unrecognized ace because of the team he is on. Based on stats alone, Halladay is the favorite with Kershaw being the dark horse to upset the Phillies fans.

NL Rookie of the Year - Freddie Freeman (Atlanta Braves) - This was almost too easy. Freeman is a very versatile first baseman, and at a young age, he has the potential to hold about a decade's worth of power in the long-run. I guess you can call him this generation's Chipper Jones. Wait...Chipper who? Ha ha ha.

AL MVP - Jose Bautista (Toronto Blue Jays) - Talk about carrying an offense for a long while. Joey Bats may just be your ordinary outfielder on the only Canadian team in MLB, but his offense and defense has been huge throughout the year. Just because he's on a .500 team (like Kemp above), that shouldn't take away his chances to receive this award. Look at the individual, not the team itself. That's why I'm not predicting for someone like Curtis Granderson.

AL Cy Young - Justin Verlander (Detroit Tigers) - This is a no-brainer. He's the Major League leader in wins, and boasts incredibly potent stats everywhere else. He's a bonafide beast at what he does. What else can I say? This award is his. If he's in the running for AL MVP as well, you know he's good.

AL Rookie of the Year - Ivan Nova (New York Yankees) - Being a pitcher in the New York Yankees staff means that about 75% of the time you will have big shoes to fill. This guy did that this year. Going 16-4 with a 3.76 ERA in your first year as a pitcher means a LOT--especially in the American League. He's got a pretty hefty chance to take this based on his top-five stats in wins and win percentage (16 and .800 respectively).

Unlike last year, I will not be making series predictions until the World Series. Why? I'm terrible at that stuff. I think out out every series I predicted last year, I only got one series right. So there. You would think based on records alone that it would be Phillies/Yankees for the second time in three years, but you never know. This year, I'm going to enjoy playoff baseball in the comforts of my own home with my hot tea and my school books and my slippers.

Until next time...


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Stem Cells are Bad, Mmkay?

This is definitely one of the weirdest sports-related stories I've heard in a while. It's almost something that Charlie Sheen in his tiger blood days would get pounded for. But as some of you guys are already familiar, Colts ailing QB Peyton Manning is currently in question after word got out that he took a private jet to Europe for stem-cell treatment in accordance to his injured neck. He's had three neck surgeries within 19 months and the treatment he sought for is not approved by the FDA here in the United States.

Are you serious?

What they tried doing for him--in my opinion--sounds pretty cool and innovative. Basically, the doctors just take stem cells from another part of his body and inject it into the injured area so that the good stem cells would multiply and eliminate the bad injured cells. Unfortunately, a controversy like this is all the more reason why the FDA hasn't approved of this treatment here because he supposedly had this treatment before he underwent his third neck surgery. In other words, it doesn't look like the treatment worked on him at all. Outsiders are seeing the foreign treatment as a last-ditch effort to get Manning back in the lineup, and I'm going to be honest, there's no way someone can say that it wasn't.

Meanwhile, fingers are being pointed because what Manning may have done is illegal. BUT, there hasn't been an official confirmation that this event actually happened. You see, there may be one person that has good news that wants to be spread and it doesn't happen, but there could be dirt from two or three reporters that spreads like wildfire. Why? Because it's national taboo and it's controversial. The fact that Manning was very adamant in wanting to come back to start the season isn't helping his innocence in any way, and this very story is just adding more frustration to Manning and the Colts team. The reason why I put the Colts in that previous statement is because Peyton had just recently signed a new deal and there's a huge chance that this year's salary may be going out the window due to Manning missing the rest of the season due to neck treatments. As more facts are coming to light about what secrets have been kept, we don't exactly know what other bad things might come out of this, such as you know...breaking government laws.

This whole thing just looks ugly. I don't exactly know what's going to happen here. If there is valid evidence that Peyton Manning underwent stem-cell treatment that is banned in the United States, there is a pretty hefty chance that he will face massive consequences for this. Are we talking jail right now? I have absolutely no idea. We've already had a football player jailed for dog fighting rings and shooting oneself in the leg [This will be covered in a later post], but for illegal medical treatment? I don't know. It could happen though. But for right now, Peyton might have made a boo-boo in wanting to come back to play. This is not going to look good on his track record, but only time is going to tell on how the NFL and FDA are going to handle this pickle.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Red Whines: The Ultimate Athletic 9/11 Tirade

This will probably be the only time I will incessantly spew red, white, and blue from my mouth like a redneck in a pickup truck with a rifle in hand.

Now this here post is about AMURRKA.
(I explained on Twitter that this is how George W. Bush pronounces this)

As all of you know, yesterday marked the tenth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Because the area that took the biggest hit of them all during that time was New York City, the New York Mets tried to make a nice gesture by wearing hats that represented the NYPD and the FDNY first responders. Major League Baseball said no. MLB wanted a unanimity with all players wearing the usual caps with the flag on the side of the cap.

Wait just a cotton-picking minute here...what??? They had a great intention to do so. It's not like the Mets were going to do that for the rest of the season, secede from the league, and then create new rules for their own league (which would be scary, in my humble opinion). They were being reverent. The whole state of New York went through absolute hell, and honoring the first responders in that subtle way would have been nice. The Mets went against MLB's request ten years ago in wearing the hats, why should this be any different? The one thing that confuses me is why Major League Baseball didn't allow these hats:

I thought these hats were the coolest ideas ever. Why weren't these worn yesterday???

I'm well aware that there is a rule that says that you cannot violate the uniform or "dress code," as it were. However, for a day like this, I feel like the rules should be bended on such a solemn day like September 11. Rules were made to be broken, you know. God forbid we all show some respect and patriotism among the people that go out there to protect and save our rear ends... Can't you tell this makes me mad?

I can understand that the NFL didn't do anything except for the unraveling of a giant flag by players and Armed Forces representatives, which is pretty much what baseball teams did around the country yesterday also. I have no problems with people staying uniform, but with a team like New York--a place that was in turmoil for nearly four months afterward--they should get a little perk, don't you think?

However, I have a theory: What if the Yankees did this too? Would Major League Baseball say something to them? After all, they are America's baseball team, and the Mets are lowly and dealing with bankruptcy and whatnot. I bet you dollars to donuts that if the Yankees did this along with the Mets, nothing would have been done about it. Sure, they allowed the Washington Nationals to wear hats to honor the US Navy Seals in August--but in batting practice. Are you kidding me? That's the team representing the nation's capital.
I understand that these games are televised and there's something being "advertised" on a cap, but do you think there are people out there that are going to take any further thought into it? There might be truth in the statement that police/fire administrations around the US may be a touchy subject, but again, on a day like this things should be a little different.

Now if you will excuse me, I'm going to go watch America's game.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Social Media: THE REVENGE

Many moons ago (oh, who am I kidding, it was about a year back) I wrote about how many sports figures were going to outlets such as Twitter and Facebook to get in touch with fans and basically see what they do in their everyday lives.
You can read that little number here.

Facebook and Twitter are awesome tools. You can talk to people, write about what's going on, and meet new people. However, you know how there's always those one or two individuals that go an abuse that privilege of having nice things? That is happening right now. ESPN is (expressively) having a cow, a few horses, and a couple of chickens over the developments of this story. Personally, I wouldn't blow it up to astronomical proportions, but it is a big deal in the sense that people are being a little too... free when it comes to their freedom of speech in the social networking world.

Over the past few weeks or so, numerous football players have been under fire for the questionable content that they have been posting on their Twitter websites. I don't exactly remember what they were word-for-word, but I know one of them had something to do with guns. Yes. Oooh scary scary scary. On Twitter, I don't tell you stupid stories on how I'm driving in the car and I blast Buckwheat Boyz while eating a chocolate chip muffin from Dunkin' Donuts. Ohhh wait, I already did. But yeah, did you care about that? I highly doubt that you did unless if you're my mother, since I would technically be driving her car and I'm eating while driving and doing a massive 808. You see, if I ever tweeted that, I would fall into the category of the stupid uses and abuses of Twitter.

I like to call something like this the "TMI Principle." As mentioned above, I don't go on Twitter or on my personal Facebook talking about extremely personal details like what my parents do or what I own or do or anything of that sort. There are just some things I want to keep to myself and to the people I personally know around me. I'd hate to say this, but not everyone is meant to be an open book. I would think you should at least know the person and speak to them in person in order find out that stuff. I remember news from a few months ago saying that every tweet in the Twitter-land is being archived in some way. Oh, well guess what, looks like there are some people that pulled a Plaxico Burress and shot themselves in the leg while having too much fun.

Should these guys get penalized for it? Yes, but not in the way it's usually handled. Fining someone isn't always the best approach. Some of these guys have enough money to pay about 50 fines and still do the stupid stuff they do. If the sports leagues can get into contact with the Twitter administrators, maybe some bans or penalties could be put into effect. That would probably be the best way to spook them. If you really want to vent and talk about questionable stuff, they still sell diaries with the little locks and keys on them. Hello? Dollar Store + one dollar = Dear Diary, -- that simple.

I don't care who you are...please have the self-dignity of sparing the rest of us the extra details, okay?
TMI dude, TMI.

Just listen to Thumper; he's got the right idea going...


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thome: The Real Life Natural

As a lot of people already know, Cleveland Indians' designated hitter Jim Thome hit his 599th and 600th career home runs at Comerica Park on August 15 as a member of the Minnesota Twins. He is now the second-fastest person in baseball history to reach 600 home runs in a career; the only person ahead of him is the legendary Babe Ruth. Due to a lot of the steroid scandals ruining sports around us, there are bound to be folks out there that are thinking that Thome did not do this feat naturally.

What is there to say about something like this?
It's a real shame that people automatically point fingers to PEDs when something so rare and incredible happens in baseball. After doing a lot of extensive reading, Jim Thome has been voted one of the friendlies ballplayers along with the hug-master Mike Sweeney. What does that have to do with this, you ask? I seriously doubt that a kindhearted guy that helps put his extended family through school would be a bonehead and do such a thing as taking shots and boosts to make his mark in major league history. If you want to make a mark in the history of a sport, do it right.

In Thome's case, he was a consistent power hitter and did things like this throughout his career. He didn't have an astronomical change in build or mechanics over his near 20-year career, so that should be enough proof that there is no foul play involved in his play. However, the naysayers that believe he was and is juiced would use the argument that he is near the top all-time in strikeouts. Why? Everybody else strikes out too. Derek Jeter strikes out a lot and you're not going to use the excuse of "well, he must be juiced up because there's no way he could have over 3,000 hits naturally." Get real. There's a lot of paranoia going around since the PED blacklisting that began in the early 2000's.

To me, Jim Thome is a real life natural at the game. He doesn't need the juice and doesn't need the stuff that will make guys great and later broken. I don't think he'll be breaking stadium lights anytime soon, but he's got something a lot of boys want someday, and that's legendary status. Also, what the boys want in seeing a natural is the positive influence they can pass on to other players looking up to them and the kindness that they provide to the fans that love them so dearly.

I mean c'mon...who wouldn't want to be naturally friendly too?

I don't care what you guys say, Thome's got the natural talent to be in the Hall of Fame someday.