Monday, September 30, 2013

The MLB Postseason Slant for 2013 - The Time Is NOW

I love how I had to wait for the American League Wild Card Playoff-Playoff to pan out. I don't like this eleventh hour business, but que sera sera. It's time for October. It's the best month of the year. It is because I said so.

Oh look, I just quoted John Cena.
And I probably just lost a bunch of readers.
Later, fools.



This season went by incredibly fast. Well, that is the season minus the last two weeks of it. Considering that there have been numerous retirement announcements from Vladimir Guerrero, Andy Pettitte, and Todd Helton, eyes have been getting pretty teary around here. All tear-ridden goodbyes aside, things have gotten pretty exciting all around the league. Races have been tight, especially the Wild Card races. It's so tight that I'm going extremely late with this post. Such is life, right?

We ready for another October blitz? The time is now, my friends.
(You can't see me.)

National League Contenders

Atlanta Braves (96-66) - After a shaky first half, and having critics slam them for not being able to capitalize with guys on base, they've shut mouths up relatively quickly. Younger guys are moving up in the ranks, and guys like Freddie Freeman keep the offense trucking along. I don't know what happened to those Upton boys though. If we're going to see these guys make it to the end, they need to keep hot and use the same formula that got them out of the nebula of confusion in the beginning months.

St. Louis Cardinals (97-65) - While it didn't look like these guys had it all the way for a little while, the Cards have been known to turn it up in the second half over the past few years. The pitching looks as great as it has been in times past. Everything just seems to click with this team, and as usual, they've been here before and can be considered a huge threat. We've got some MVP-like candidates on this team, and it's going to take everything they have to keep the fire in October.

Los Angeles Dodgers (92-70) - Remember when they were dwelling in the basement after the first half? Then they realized they had the largest payroll in the National League and were like: "Oh, we should be earning this money" and they ended up going 42-8 over a 50-game stretch. I know. It was insane. I watched a lot of it. Yasiel Puig has become an overnight sensation, and Clayton Kershaw is one of the most dominant pitching forces in MLB. Everyone else follows suit.
No swimming pools here, boys.

[Wild Card] Pittsburgh Pirates (94-68) - Whoaaaaaaaa. After 20 years, these guys are back, and I won't lie, they're looking pretty darn good. The pitching staff is one of the strongest in the league, and they've picked up the pace when the offense would stumble. Behind MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen, their one-game playoff against their NL Central rival should be an exciting one.

[Wild Card 2] Cincinnati Reds (90-72) - As you can tell, the NL Central is always red-hot, no pun intended.  That has mostly been attributed to their consistent pitching staffs, especially from the Reds' bullpen. Expect a massive duel of the forts against the Bucs. Legends will be made in the lineup that night. We'll see if Joey Votto can lead along.

American League Contenders

Boston Red Sox (97-65) - These guys are in it and the Yankees aren't. It's like atoms were split. Speaking of atoms, there are a lot of guys that have built this team up to be a total powerhouse, and they've been doing extremely well in fending off the opposition. The team average is tops in all of MLB, and the pitching is one of the most efficient out of the AL East contenders. Is it time to ship up to Boston this year? Building up the team like atoms are going to be key, as no man is an island in Beantown.

Detroit Tigers (93-69) - If you're looking at the team at face-value, you wouldn't be shocked. They've been doing the right things throughout the season. Their hitting is the best in the AL and they're absolutely ferocious as a staff in hitting and pitching with Miggy, Prince, and Torii at the plate, and Justin, Anibal, and Max at the mound. This team might not look extremely scary by record, but mother of pearl, they totally are. Fear these guys.

Oakland Athletics (96-66) - Are we getting a Moneyball: Round 2 this year? While the team looks slightly different than it did last year, you will see that different players pull through for the staff each night. Their pitching is especially effective, and it will make a difference against the other Division-winning teams. Bartolo Colon is a total beast, and Andrew Griffin is right behind him. Let's hope that the offense can stay strong.

[Wild Card] Cleveland Indians (92-70) - It's pretty nice to see these guys back in October again. After a few seasons of harsh animosity, we have a strong pitching staff and a clutch-at-times lineup. Will this be enough after a one-game playoff? The Rays may be riding on momentum based on their pre-playoff game, so the Wahoos have to want this in order to make it to the next level. They might not have the best of stats compared to the other contenders, but they have the smarts and the tools to turn it on.

[Wild Card 2] Tampa Bay Rays (91-71) - Nice show in the playoff-playoff, eh? These guys have a nice mix of youth and veterans that can aid each other in working out a strong playoff run. The one advantage these guys have is that they have the momentum from playing the Rangers and doing extremely well. We've seen this before. I'd like to see them make some fireworks in a playoff series.

Individual Winners

NL MVP - Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates) - He's always been toward the top in stats, and this has definitely been his year to shine. I would be severely shocked if he didn't get this one.
Next Best Choice: Yadier Molina (St. Louis Cardinals)

NL Cy Young - Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodgers) - This guy is a tank. It should tell you something if his ERA is under 2.00. That is all.
Next Best Choice: Adam Carpenter (St. Louis Cardinals)

NL Rookie of the Year - Yasiel Puig (Los Angeles Dodgers) - I'm going down the beaten path this year, but he adjusted incredibly well to his team and was a catalyst for wins at times. Sounds like a winner here.
Next Best Choice: Jose Fernandez (Miami Marlins)

AL MVP - Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) - In his sophomore season, he's been breaking faces, records, and making people like me feel like I'm doing nothing with my life. Here's to hoping he doesn't fall apart after this.
Next Best Choice: Miguel Cabrera (Detroit Tigers)

AL Cy Young - Max Scherzer (Detroit Tigers) - I didn't choose this strictly on wins. He has been consistent all season and kept his cool throughout. His stats are also boasting CY numbers.
Next Best Choice: Yu Darvish (Texas Rangers)

AL Rookie of the Year - Wil Myers (Tampa Bay Rays) - He's turned it on as of late and his proving his worth under pressure. Especially with Tampa Bay's push for the postseason, that should account for something.
Next Best Choice: Chris Archer (Tampa Bay Rays)


While I'm sad that another baseball season is over, October is a huge cherry on top and gives the MLB season a big sendoff. Let's hope for some of that magic to come back all over again.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Red Whines: Hits and Complete Misses

Don't get me wrong, I'm a believer in the direction the NFL is taking when it comes to concussions, but what I saw and heard during the preseason and Week 1 when it came to lower hits is absolutely ridiculous. It's time to whine.

The NFL season officially kicked off on Thursday night and came in with a bang. The games on Sunday and Monday also went off without a hitch. One thing that may have caught your eye this past weekend is the lack of helmet-to-helmet contact against opposing players. While fights did break out in various games, you didn't see anything substantial in head injuries unless it was a freak collision between two teammates making a sandwich of another player. The more common sight in tackles and take-downs happened below the belt. While it was safer on the heads of players, it was noticed in preseason that other injuries were flowing from these lower hits.

During preseason, numerous offensive players were going down with leg injuries including ankle sprains and torn knee ligaments. While it is common to see some players go down early due to the process of conditioning and getting back in the grind going slower than usual, the frequency of lower-body injuries is starting to scare teams and analysts. One noted lower-body hit that occurred on Sunday wasn't clean, but the rest that led to the freak injuries were regarded as clean and not penalties. Over the past several days, football analysts have been putting their thoughts out over the airwaves and they've been quite vocal over the excessive lower-body hits and how players may be defenseless in these acts.

Those opinions are theirs. I can't judge the analysts on these hits. My upcoming opinions shouldn't be over-judged either.

Amid this turmoil, what upsets me is the mentality that some of the players have about where the hits happen and how long they have to sit out for their injuries. Players would rather get concussed and sit out for a week than getting a knee or an ankle injury and be out for a month or two.
^This is me.^
Let us begin to discuss how stupid that philosophy is. No, it shouldn't have to be discussed. The stupidity of that should just be acknowledged.

A concussion isn't your average injury. If you have never received one yourself, you don't realize how lousy and horrible that single week is. You're dealing with a brain injury, and those effects will stick around with you for life in small ways. Multiple ones will definitely screw you up. Heck, read the posts I've written about the various matters and get educated. [Article 1, Article 2] It's one thing to be "manly" and tough, but human health is more important in the long run than a paycheck. Sure, the taxes are going to kill in the future, but in my opinion, I'd much rather be poor than have a corroded brain and having memory/cognition problems.

But wait, there's more poker face-induced business. The NFL has been looking into tackles around the knee area and possibly thinking of a ban on lower hits.
You can read that article here.

Any less hits and we're going to call the NFL a two-hand-touch league. Lower-body hits and injuries happen in hockey and sometimes in soccer too. As hard-hitting as football is, it's almost expected to see someone get hurt. No man is invincible. When the adrenaline in pumping and you're looking to take a player to the ground, you don't really have the time to think of where you're hitting him. Sometimes, the mid-body hits (like the ribs) doesn't get the guy down, and aiming low is the best bet to ground him. There's a difference between being careful with your athletes and being overprotective. The fans go for the hard hits, and the athletes want to earn their paycheck and do whatever they can to win. You can't take all the hits away from them. While the head hits are understandable, the lower shots are a bit of a stretch.

We might as well be watching the games here if that were to happen.

I'll admit it: this is a really, really dumb issue that needed to be ripped apart. Let's not take the game away completely, fellas. The point of football is to be physical and get the job done. If you take away all of the options, you might as well be on your couch playing the Madden games.

In the case of what football broadcasters are saying, I respect their opinion. Most of these analysts are former players and coaches themselves, and they know the pain and harrowing rehabilitation processes that follow these lower-body injuries. However, it should also be known that it's a part of the game and it really can't be avoided--just like the freak concussions occurring from teammate collisions on a tackle. Accidents happen. While the safety of the teams are key, this is the price that is going to be paid each and every time they step out onto the field.