Congrats Kansas City or Screw The Royals

Time to reflect. Take the positives with the negatives. Even if the sting of the ALCS lingers long into the bleak, dark winter it’s important to remember that the Baltimore Orioles were not expected to make it this far, not by most measures. “Sabermetrics can kiss my ass.” That’s what Orioles manager Buck Showalter should say but won’t because he’s smart enough to understand that baseball is a game of numbers. Like 8-0 as in the Kansas City Royals have yet to lose a game in the 2014 postseason. (Ned Yost is the undefeated champion of the world!!!!) Or .533 as in Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain’s batting average in the ALCS. (Raise your hand if you had ever heard of Lorenzo Cain before these playoffs? Figures. Now he’s your ALCS MVP. The Yankees and Red Sox can begin their salivating.) And 15 as in the number of infield hits the speedy Royals have accumulated this postseason. The other nine playoff teams? 14. (Bloops, bunts, and broken bats carry with them carrying degrees of luck.)

Add it all up and the Orioles run has come to an end. With or without injured all-stars Manny Machado and Matt Wieters or the suspended Chris Davis it’s difficult to imagine any single player slowing down the Kansas City buzz saw as it slices and dices its way to it’s first World Series in 29 years. Could the Baltimore starters have gone deeper? Sure. Was the lineup outside of an occasional blast from Nelson Cruz and Ryan “Flash” Flaherty fairly anemic? Absolutely. Does Adam Jones remain the most confoundingly frustrating player on the roster? Double yes. Credit Royals pitchers, especially the bullpen, for making the Orioles hitters look so overmatched. Herrera, Davis and Holland are the most dominating threesome since Caesar, Pompey and Crassus.

A healthy and hearty congrats to Kansas City Royals fans who have waited a long time for their team to be good again. And while some may fault you for failing to show up and support your squad during the lean years, nearly three decades worth, Orioles fans can relate to the apathy. So enjoy this run, for us.

And too much good happened in Camden Yards this year to write the entire season off as a disappointment. This iteration of the Baltimore Orioles should be back and better than ever next season.

If not, well then the Royals can go screw themselves.

 

Weather Permitting: Orioles vs Royals

Weather permitting the Baltimore Orioles and the Kansas City Royals will open the 2014 ALCS tonight at Camden Yards.

Here’s a sample of a few other moments from game 1. Weather permitting.

 

Fans will get their early for batting practice and Boog’s BBQ.

Somebody important, maybe a senator or reality tv star will throw out the first pitch.

The announcers, including Cal Ripken Jr., will make over 100 references to the 1985 and 1983 ALCSs, the last time the Royals and Orioles won the pennant respectively.

Chris Tillman will throw a first pitch fastball strike to Royals leadoff hitter Alcides Escobar at approximately 8:07.

Tillman will end up walking Escobar on 8 pitches leading Orioles manager Buck Showalter to ponder when is too early to go to Andrew Miller, Darren O’Day and Zach Britton in the bullpen.

The next batter Nori Aoki will hit into a 6-4-3 double play and Showalter will instantly regret thinking about bringing in a relief pitcher even though we will never know or hear about his indecision because he is a baseball genius who never makes mistakes.

In between the top and bottom half of the 1st inning, Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy will use some of that $40 million extension to buy everyone in the dugout a soft drink of their choosing.  [Read more…]

Hello Hockey

The start of another NHL season. Wait, didn’t the last one just end? In May or June, sometime in late Spring. Now it’s only October. Don’t these guys need some rest?

So much to learn, and so little time. What’s the difference between the red and blue line? A goal and assist? That one is easy but team points still make no sense. Three for a victory, one for a tie. None for a loss but two for a win in overtime. Too many numbers my brain’s turning to jelly. Tim Hortons or Dunkin Donuts both taste the same. I’d rather watch with a beer. A Molson not Bud. I’ll offer one to the players, they’re always in need of hydration.

Is that guy a Czech or a Slav? Manitoba or Minnesota? So many countries, states and provinces being represented in such a small little rink. It’s like the United Nations decided to hold their annual meeting on ice. Which begs the question, how will climate change affect the sport of hockey? Maybe one day in the not so distant future the game will be played on water with skis instead of skates. Who’s kidding who, it’ll always be cold in Saskatchewan. Siberia too. Or is Russia not letting it’s players compete? Ovechkin’s here so things can’t be that bad. Maybe he can meet with the President to discuss Ukraine, they both live in D.C.

The Original Six are easy enough to remember. There’s Montreal, Toronto, Boston, New York, and Detroit. The last is either Chicago or Philly, that much I know. What ever happened to the Whalers? Last I heard they moved to Carolina. Are there still teams in Phoenix and Nashville? If so, why? Bring back the Nordiques!!! Quebec needs another team. And while you’re at it expand to Seattle and Portland. Hamilton too. Toronto can handle two teams, it’s one of North America’s greatest cities. Mayonnaise on everything. Canadians don’t discriminate.

Who’s good this year? Los Angeles again? They just won Lord Stanley’s Cup. What’s this about Tampa Bay? The Lightning are for real? I hear the Bruins may be good, Rangers too. When will hockey have a Cinderella, a real dark horse? Do the Wild count? The Islanders instead? Have they moved into Jay-Z’s house yet or is that next year? What’s Brooklyn going to do with a team, dress em up in gingham and force them to listen to Bon Hiver?

I like that there are few ads, same as soccer. Football breaks every 30 seconds it seems. Both are violent sports. They should just get rid of all the fighting. Impossible to understand. It’s the culture they say, the history is important. Basketball has a great tradition too but you don’t see LeBron throwing haymakers at Kobe.

This could definitely be the year when I dive deep into hockey. Full reports to follow. 20 loonies I make it past Halloween.

The San Francisco Giants Rotation Solves Serious Problems

Last night during San Francisco’s NLDS clinching victory over the Washington Nationals Giants veteran Tim Hudson gave an interview where amongst other things he described the corner of the locker room he shares with fellow pitchers and men of the South Jake Peavy and Madison Bumgarner as being “pretty country”. Using as many readily available stereotypes as possible we were able to obtain a transcript of a recent conversation between the NLCS bound San Francisco Giants rotation.

Peavy: Way to make that curveball work for you the other night against the Nationals.

Hudson: Thanks, man. Same to you with that splitter. Pretty nasty stuff.

Bumgarner: So what do you fellas want to listen to: Jason Aldean or Blake Shelton?

Peavy: You got any Kenny Chesney on that there iPod?

Hudson: How about something a little different like Creedence Clearwater Revival?

Bumgarner: Who?

Hudson: Miranda Lambert’s good.

Peavy: Hey, you think the Cardinals will put up more of a fight than Washington?

Hudson: I would assume so. St. Louis has been there before just like us.

Bumgarner: Yeah, but what’s up with their fans man? Why so much anger directed at black folks?

Hudson: That is pretty unsettling what transpired outside Busch Stadium the other day.

Bumgarner: And yet we’re still the ones labeled as ignorant, why is that?

Hudson: Probably has something to do with history, you know like the Civil War.

Peavy: Yeah but I’ve played in cities like Boston and those people can be just as intolerant as folks down South.

Hudson: So you’re saying racism is a national issue?

Bumgarner: Like guns and tax reform?

Peavy: Alls I’m saying is that the vast majority of people, most of them from the North and Midwest, think that race is only an issue in the South when in reality the majority of ‘merica is still trying to overcome deep socio-economic and cultural issues that keep communities divided across the country.

Bumgarner: Have you guys seen my camouflage under shirt?

Hudson: Well, it’s not like we can do anything about it.

Peavy: But see that mentality perpetuates the problem.

Bumgarner: Seriously, where’s my camo?

Hudson: What do you mean exactly?

Peavy: For instance, what the one thing that all people in St. Louis black and white can agree on?

Bumgarner: Found it. Right next to my cowboy boots.

Hudson: I don’t know, the Cardinals?

Peavy: Exactly.

Hudson: What’s the point?

Bumgarner: Do you guys want to see me shotgun 5 beers at once?

Hudson: Not right now Madison.

Peavy: The point is, if Cardinals players were to take more of a public stand against those fans preaching hate outside the stadium and for what went down in Ferguson a few months back things might change for the better.

Bumgarner: Did you know Matt Holliday had a scholarship to play football at Oklahoma State?

Hudson: Isn’t that kind of a major oversimplification.

Peavy: It is. There are a lot more isssues at play in St. Louis and urban areas across the country than can be solved by a group of baseball players. Things like violence, crumbling of public education, etc… But their voices could help galvanize the community in a common cause.

Hudson: That’s a lot of pressure being heaped on those fellas.

Peavy: It is, but with fame comes responsibility and influence. Just look at what a differences athletes have made in the past. Jackie Robinson. Muhammad Ali.

Hudson: Yeah but those guys weren’t making as much money as players today and there’s just too much on the line sometimes to stick your neck out for a cause.

Peavy: True, but our ridiculous contract today are because 40 years ago a guy like Curt Flood was willing to challenge a system which perpetuated and inequality .

Bumgarner: Justice.

Peavy: That’s right. So athletes can make a difference when it comes to improving society.

Hudson: Maybe the three of us should organize something when we travel to St. Louis this weekend for the opening of the NLCS?

Bumgarner: Like a gun buyback program with the Ferguson Police Department?

Hudson: Something like that.

Bumgarner: Cool, cause in my home state of Texas they got these ginormous wildlife preserves you can hunt big game on the verge of extinction.

Peavy: Did you guys see that Bama game last weekend?

Hudson: Tough one. How about my Auburn Tigers?

Bumgarner: War Eagle!

Peavy: Roll Tide!

Baltimore And Kansas City Share A Classic Baseball Embrace

If at the the beginning of the 2014 MLB season you had the Baltimore Orioles and the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS then you’re lying. Either that or you should let it all ride in Vegas because you might be on the verge of a lucrative lucky streak.

We’d be more inclined to believe you if this were the 1980s and parachute pants ruled over skinny jeans. Back then the American League was aligned differently, the gap between markets large and small much less defined. Long are the days of Whitey Herzog and Earl Weaver. Believe it or not, this is the first time since 1997 that the ALCS hasn’t featured one of four teams: Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers or Los Angeles Angels. Ironically, ’97 was the last time Baltimore played in the ALCS while Kansas City hasn’t made it this far since 1985.

The Orioles and Royals have many similarities and differences. Baltimore hits home runs while Kansas City steals bases. Both have lock down bullpens, young lineups, solid starting pitching and play above average defense. Each team is built to win now. Next season the Orioles may be without Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis and JJ Hardy while the Royals will in all likelihood lose staff ace James Shields. Buck Showalter traditionally manages laps around Ned Yost but the Royals have belief especially since their Wild Card comeback against the Oakland A’s.

Home field advantage is a real, palpable thing especially for crowds unaccustomed to October baseball. You won’t find many fans in either Camden Yards or Kauffman Stadium who have been spoiled by success. BBQ and crab cakes aren’t the only reason to root root for the home team and for two cities where the NFL has been king, this ALCS will be a refreshing reminder of the once proud yet too often overlooked tradition of both franchises.

Non partisan baseball fans will enjoy watching Baltimore/Kansas City because of the nostalgia while fringe fans will appreciate the novelty of this once in a generation ALCS. If not, there’s always football.