Tagged: SportsCenter

Team of destiny?

By now you’ve no doubt noticed that the Tampa Bay Rays have
already equaled last year’s win total and stand just four wins shy of their
franchise record with 41 games remaining. (And this after a loss, too.) XM’s
Baseball This Morning provided a nice list of parallels between the ’08 Rays
and the ’69 Miracle Mets. First off: The ’08 Rays have a 24-year-old ace in
Scott Kazmir. The ’69 Mets had a 24-year-old ace, Tom Seaver. The ’67 Mets were
61-101, ditto the ’06 Devil Rays. The Mets’ manager in 1969 was Gil Hodges, who
has three letters in his first name and six in his last name, just like current
Rays manager Joe Maddon. What does it all mean? Absolutely nothing, of course,
but the Rays are a very good team without a doubt. Remains to be seen if
they can get past the Angels in the playoffs, assuming that that’s who they
play. The Red Sox’ traditional postseason dominance of the Angels can only go
so far, and with Boston’s horrible road record, I’m not so confident in their
chances as a wild card team–especially not against a team with the road record
to nullify their home field advantage when they do have. Modified predictions
for ALDS: Angels sweep Red Sox, Rays beat White Sox in 4.

 

Raul Ibañez set a new Seattle record for RBIs in an inning
with 6 in the seventh inning against Minnesota, part of a ten-run offensive by
the Mariners that inning. Ibañez’s grand slam proved key to the Mariners’
comeback win. Also hitting a grand slam yesterday was Marlon Byrd of the Texas
Rangers, after the Yankees rallied to tie the game at 5-5 in the top of the
ninth, providing a 9-5 walkoff win in the regulation nine. Oakland lost their
seventh game in a row and is just 2-14 since the All-Star Break. Furthermore,
they had been playing only .500 ball leading into the break and are 9-23 since
their high-water mark of nine games over .500 on June 28th. The
Angels won last night on a bases-loaded walk, the same method Tampa Bay used to
win the previous day by an equal 6-5 score.

 

Milwaukee continues to reel, falling for the seventh time in
their last nine games as they were shut down by a Cincinnati team that was
coming off of a sweep at the hands of the league-worst Washington Nationals.
The game was more notable for the fight that transpired in the dugout between
Prince Fielder and Manny Parra. The Cubs also lost, 2-0 in a rain-shortened
game against the scorching Houston Astros (7-1 over their last eight), so
Milwaukee remains five games back, now just half a game up on the idle Cards in
the wild card race.

 

Yeah, yeah, I did it again. Two days worth of writing for
this entry. Tampa Bay got that win, passing last year’s mark with 40 games to
go. Also, I feel a lot better about the Red Sox now. They continue to get
production up and down the lineup, as Youk had his fourth straight game with an
XBH, Pedroia’s now got the longest road hitting streak by a Red Sox since 1913,
Lowrie continued his hot streak with another triple and more RBIs, Bay went 4
for 5, and even Jacoby got into the act, with two hits and two stolen bases–the
first steals in over a month. I really love this team. Where else do you see
the number four starter win Pitcher of the Month? Oh, right, Cleveland
(actually, that was the number 5, at least when it happened, back in April. 15
wins and an All-Star start can change that designation quickly). With win 15 on
Monday night, Lee leads the AL and was briefly tied for the major league lead,
but NL leader Brandon Webb picked up his 16th last night to retake
sole possession of the overall lead. Many happy returns, with Mike Hampton
picking up his first win since 2005, Chris Carpenter making his first home
start since Opening Day 2007 in an eventual 11-inning Cardinal win, and Francisco
Fausto Carmona returning for the Indians, though I’ve already mentioned that
the Indians didn’t win last night, being the Rays’ opponents. (Another
reference to XM Radio on the morning commute there. Really blew that one.)
Interesting play in last night’s Red Sox-Royals game. One of Jason Bay’s four
hits had just barely enough distance and height to clear the wall if
uncontested, but of course, it was contested. Royals centerfielder Mitch
Maier managed to get a glove on it but couldn’t make the catch, instead weakly
knocking the ball away. The ball continued to roll on top of the outfield
wall
for 10-20 seconds before left fielder Ross Gload batted it down and
threw in, limiting Bay to a double. Nevertheless, it was a wholly inexplicable
turn of events. Chris Waters had a phenomenal debut, shutting out the Angels
for eight innings, and the Tigers continued to struggle as they continued to
have trouble closing out games, blowing a 6-1 lead at the halfway point with a
run allowed in the bottom of the fifth, two more in the sixth and one each in
the seventh and eighth and wasting a two-run top of the 14th by
allowing four runs in the bottom of the inning, the last three on a Nick
Swisher home run.

 

Put it off another day…I really, REALLY despise the Tampa
Bay Rays. I wasn’t really paying that much attention to yesterday’s afternoon
games while they were in progress, but I knew that there were some going on,
including Rays-Indians. No sooner do I find the game on my radio… “WAAAAAAAAY
BACK!!! THIS GAME IS TIED!!!” I’m not going to do the whole quote, but yeah. I
then found out that the first two batters of the inning doubled. Disgusting…and
it only got worse. The infield single was disappointing, the four-pitch walk
was horrifying, and the three-run homer was, by that point, almost
predictable–I say almost because I was actually expecting the following batter
to get a grand slam instead. I’m watching the very beginning of SportsCenter
right now, and baseball is nowhere in sight–Brett Favre got traded, and the
entire rundown of seven topics is Favre-related. (I think it froze up again, though,
because this isn’t the top one any more. It may not even be one of the seven,
which would be really disturbing.) More media circus here in Jersey, too–the
Jets ended up winning out over the Buccaneers. (That’s a bit of a shame,
really; not only do I hate both “New York” football teams, Brett Favre would
probably be an upgrade for the Bucs–who do they have, Jeff Garcia? Garcia was
good for us when McNabb went down in ’06, but I’d rather have Favre
there–remember, the Bucs are in the same division as the Carolina Panthers,
whose ’09 first-round draft pick the Eagles picked up in a draft-day trade. So
improving the Bucs helps my favorite team.) Oh, wait, I was wrong about it
freezing up; we’ve returned from the first break and four of the seven are still
on the rundown. The end of SportsCenter was also all Favre…which detracts from
a different kind of Buc. I swear, good accomplishments on bad teams get
no attention at all–the next five on the rundown are “Indians-Rays”, “Walk-off
HR”, “Yankees-Rangers”, “Joba Chamberlain”, and “Red Sox-Royals”. In a way, it
makes sense–the Rays are a division leader and had an incredible comeback win,
the Yankees are in the same division and have a major starter who will be
missing some time, and the Sox are also in that division and leading the wild
card. Unfortunately, after that, it’s even more football coverage–about to fill
up the rundown again. Okay, so what’s the rule–you have to carry the
no-hitter into the ninth to get mentioned by the halfway point? Remember last
week’s entry, when John Lackey’s 8⅓ no-hit innings against the Red Sox got the
top story on SC (and brought the rest of the AL East to the top), even with
plenty of Favre news to go around, and Doug Davis, his cancer-survivor status
and his 7⅔ perfect innings couldn’t get in until after the second
commercial break? Guess what–it happened again, except this time it doesn’t
seem like this one will beat the third break. Eight NFL pieces in this
block, followed by…the NL East: Padres-Mets, then Marlins-Phillies. Hello? 7⅔
perfect innings!!!
This time the Diamondbacks were on the other side of the
ball, unable to get a baserunner until there were two outs in the eighth. Two
more pieces appear on the rundown, and they’re Tigers-White Sox and
Twins-Mariners. We’ve hit the third commercial break, and they’ve told us to
stick around for highlights of the Cubs’ eight-run third against the
Astros–they often tell us to “stick around” for something that we’ll still be
“sticking around” for at the next commercial break, like yesterday with
the surreal play from the Red Sox-Royals game. We’re back, and the next one is,
rather cryptically, “Images”. I’m guessing it’s more Brett Favre. The clock by
the rundown says 11:37, and I might be wrong about the “Images” because the
next one is Dodgers-Cardinals. Will this be it? NO! The next one is
Astros-Cubs, so the following one should be Brewers-Reds…and it is…PGA
Championship. Man, and I was sure that they were going for the NL
Central thing. They go for the second-in-the-West Dodgers versus
second-in-the-wild-card, third-in-the Central Cards, and then follow up with
the Central’s leader…and doesn’t go to the Brew Crew next? Bad editing,
guys…Twins-M’s took us into the fourth commercial, and “End of an Era” followed
“PGA Championship”, followed by even more Favre. I am not going to
finish this entry until SportsCenter gets to the biggest accomplishment of the
night…I mean, you’ve got this 25-year-old, recently acquired…Ah, there’s
“Images”. Image of the week–Manny arriving in LA, Favre arriving and leaving
Green Bay, Carl Edwards celebrating a win, or US cyclists wearing black masks
in Beijing. Manny won out in the poll. “Headlines” and “Legends” follow
“Favre’s Best”…wait…at 11:47, “Headlines” could be that bit I saw…IT IS! The
next one after “Legends” is “Long, Strange Trip”, which was the final
segment–and, yep, there’s “Top Stories” again. Oh, look, “Favre’s Best” is the
daily top 10–they’re taking all of them from Favre’s career highlights instead
of the day’s plays. So, we’ve now got SportsCenter all wrapped up, and so many
games left uncovered. Brewers-Reds, A’s-Jays, Orioles-Angels, Braves-Giants,
Nats-Rockies (okay, that one got rained out; doubleheader today), and, of
course…Pirates-Diamondbacks. If a large-market team kept an opponent of the
bases–or was kept off the bases–for so much as six innings complete,
it’d probably be the top story. Jeff Karstens retires the first twenty-three
Diamondbacks he faces, and it doesn’t get on SportsCenter at all. Come on, near
perfect game? Against a division leader? Still a complete-game shutout–unlike
the Lackey game, which wasn’t a shutout, or the Davis game, which wasn’t a complete game?
Opposing a sure-fire Hall of Famer–“the ugly guy”, as my mom calls him. (Randy
Johnson may not be pretty, but he throws a mean fastball.) ESPN, you disgust
me.

Advertisements

I love this game

Been awhile since I last updated–I’ve kind of been
procrastinating the typing up of my handwritten All-Star Game Journal. A
warning for when I do get it up: I start getting really strange when I’m
staying up late. I got an early start this morning, which means classic games
on XM. This morning’s classic was from April 27, 2003. I know this to be the
date because the out-of-town scores happened to mention that Kevin
Millwood had no-hit the Giants. When you can share an afternoon with a no-hitter,
and a no-hitter with only one run of support at that, and still make it as a
classic game, you know it’s a good day in baseball. From what I had heard when
I joined the game in progress, St. Louis had led 6-1 before the Marlins tied it
up in a five-run ninth backed by homers by Ramon Castro, Luis Castillo and Mike
Lowell. One thing I found especially curious, listening to the late innings of
this game, was that the Cards repeatedly issued intentional walks to Lowell in
order to get to Derrek Lee, twice with two outs already just in the innings I
heard. Maybe by now that would once more be a good strategy, but there were a
few years there that hardly anyone warranted getting an intentional pass to get
to D-Lee, certainly not Mike Lowell. Fernando Viña had the game-winning RBI
single for the Cardinals in the 20th inning…to end the game
1-for-10. -_-‘ Yeah…it’s that kind of game. Last night’s action was interesting
in its own right. While there weren’t any 20-inning games, there was a
ten-inning game, and it wasn’t tied up when the ninth inning began. I know this
because I saw a bit of the ninth when I first woke up, replayed on ESPN–it was
the Brewers-Cardinals game that they’d happened to choose for Monday Night
Baseball. I could’ve sworn it was the Brewers that had trailed 3-2, but the
wrap-ups on XM’s Baseball This Morning, while not mentioning that it had become
tied in the ninth, did say that Rickie Weeks had a 3-run homer “earlier in the
game”, so I guess it must’ve been the Cards. I don’t know; my TV was flickering
this morning, the result of a power surge last night that knocked out the power
in my town for a few hours, so I didn’t stick around to watch for very long.
Milwaukee ended up winning 6-3, Bill Hall with a solo homer to start the three-run
tenth. Ten is also the number of runs the Rockies scored, on twenty hits…in a
not-so-close loss. The Dodgers had 8 runs on the board before the host Rockies
even came to bat and won 16-10. Ten, too, is the number of runs the Tigers
scored…in the eighth inning. Miguel Cabrera was 5-for-6 with 6 RBI in the
Tigers’ 19-4 victory over the Royals. Boston finally won another road game, but
the Rays and Yanks likewise won, so the Sox remain 1½ back in the division,
three ahead of the Yankees. They did, however, increase their lead in the wild
card race, as the Bombers’ 12-4 victory was over Minnesota, now two back in the
wild card race and still just half a game behind the White Sox, who fell to the
killer bat of Josh Hamilton and the rest of the Texas Rangers. This win moves
the Rangers into second place in the AL West, half a game better than Tampa’s
victim, the A’s, but still 8½ games behind the division-leading Angels, losers
last night but still the only team with 60 wins and the only team with less
than 40 losses (which, if you’re keeping count, means their closer’s save total
exceeds their team’s loss total.) Back to the NL side, Rich Harden pitched a
great game for the Cubs but fell to 0-1 in the National League as the North
Siders were shut out 2-0 by Randy Johnson and the Arizona Diamondbacks. With
the NL East co-leading Phillies and Mets both idle last night, the Marlins had
a chance to make it a three-way tie with a win over the Braves, but couldn’t do
it, managing just two singles and a walk in a 4-0 defeat. Freddy Sanchez hit an
inside-the-park home run as the Pirates beat the Astros 9-3 to snap a five-game
losing streak.

 

So I ended up not posting the same day I originally wrote
this…again. Means time for more updates…Colorado scored ten again, but
this time, it was more than enough for a blowout win over the Dodgers. The Reds
won in eleven innings, while in St. Louis, we had a truly great radio call.
“It’s interesting how deep Ankiel is playing Hall…and he should be as [Hall]
hits it over his head into the bleachers for a home run; man he really destroys
us.” Just like that. No change in voice tone, as Bill Hall’s two-out solo homer
in the ninth inning gave the Brewers a 4-3 victory; the Crew now leads St.
Louis by one game in the wild card race and is just a game behind the Cubs, who
lost 9-2 to the now sole NL West-leading D-Backs. The tie atop the NL East was
also broken, obviously, as the Phillies scored six runs in the ninth to beat
the Mets 8-6. The Marlins also stayed just a game back with a 4-0 win over the
Braves; Chipper Jones accounted for the Braves’ only hit of the game. In other
Diamondbacks news, 6’10” Randy Johnson is no longer the tallest pitcher on
his team, as they acquired 6’11” Jon Rauch from the Nationals in exchange
for a minor-league infielder. Also in the transaction news: Houston acquired
Randy Wolf from San Diego. This baffles many, as Houston doesn’t seem to be in
contention (they lost to Pittsburgh again last night), but with the deadline
still over a week away, they could get two starts out of him and still be able
to deal him away. If there’s a contending team out there rumored to want Wolf
that has something the Astros want, this could’ve been a very shrewd move. The
White Sox increased their lead in the division with a win over Texas, as the
Twins lost to the Yankees. The Red Sox, winners again over Seattle, now lead
both the Twins and Yankees by three games for the wild card and trail the Rays
by just half a game, as Oakland retook second place in the West with an 8-1 win
over Tampa Bay.

 

Why do I even bother? It’s been nearly a week now, and still
no official updates from me. More interesting trades made, as the Dodgers pick
up Casey Blake from the Indians (good move) and the Yanks get Xavier Nady and
Damaso Marte from the Pirates (even better move). Still, yesterday was a prime
example of how stats can be misleading. Yesterday’s SportsCenter stated,
truthfully, that the Yankees had won all four of the starts that Sidney Ponson
had made for them. However, what wasn’t told there was that he generally left
those starts in the sixth inning or so and in one of them gave up seven earned
runs in five-plus innings. (Remember that game I was telling you about when I
was in Tampa watching the Boston bullpen implode against the Rays while the
Yankees seemed to have more runs each time their game passed by on the
out-of-town scoreboard? That would be the one.) Boston starter Jon Lester, on
the other hand, had given up just 5 earned runs in 23⅔ innings over his last
three starts, including a complete-game shutout at Yankee Stadium. Naturally,
the Sox pounded Sir Sidney and the Knights of the Buffet Table to the tune of a
9-2 win. The following divisions have seen a tie for first place (give or take
a couple of percentage points) within the past week: AL East, NL East, NL
Central, NL West. (The following division can’t possibly see a tie for first
until the second week of August and probably won’t see one ever again this
season: AL West.) Yes, the Brewers finally caught the Cubs, entering yesterday’s
action in a dead heat. The Brewers lost again, giving the Cubs a one-game lead,
but the two teams start a four-game series tonight in Milwaukee. Should be
exciting. Scheduled matchups: Lilly vs. Sabathia, Zambrano vs. Sheets, Dempster
vs. Parra, Harden vs. Bush. But seriously, the Angels’ AL West dominance is
sick. Their lead over second-place Texas is more than the other five division
leaders’ leads over the second place teams combined. Actually, if you
add up the games behind for the other five second-place teams (Boston 1,
Minnesota 2.5, Philadelphia 1, Milwaukee 1, Los Angeles 1), you could add in
the deficit for one of the two eastern divisions’ third place teams (New York 3
or Florida 2) and still come up with something below the 10.5 games that Los
Angeles of Anaheim leads their division by. The Angels have been the rare team
that does truly well on the road, fully five games better than any other team
(14 games over .500, with second-best St. Louis a mere 4 games over .500 on the
road)–and that’s even with a road loss yesterday. (St. Louis also suffered a
road loss, though.) Actually, that road loss is notable not because it’s rare
that they lose on the road, but because of who the home team was. Prior to
their win over the Angels yesterday, the Orioles had not won on a Sunday since
April 6, the first Sunday of the season.