Monday Musings: Baseball Swan Song Edition

This will be the last baseball centric Musings for 2011. With the playoffs around the corner, you can expect a little post season preview sometime later this week. Until then, enjoy your quick trip around the bases, it’ll be a while until the next.

A Quick Around the Bases

1B – With the MLB playoffs set to begin this Friday, now feels like as good a time as any for baseball to consider adding 2 wild card teams to the post season. In this new plan, each league would hold a one game play in game between the two wild card teams with the idea being that this extra “series” would compel teams to compete for division titles rather than settle for the wild card. Anyway you slice it, the Baltimore Orioles are getting no closer to their first post season appearance in nearly two decades.

2B – Moneyball the movie opened in theaters this weekend and finished second at the box office behind Lion King 3-D with roughly $20 million. Reviews are incredibly positive and I myself look forward to seeing the film, just as soon as I read the book. And before you sabermetricians begin to judge, most of my nightly reading consists of stories that involve a cow jumping over the moon so it could be some time before Moneyball makes its way to my nightstand.

3B – After a historically inept season, Adam Dunn Chicago has got to do some serious brainstorming to do this offseason. I can personally attest to the notion that hitting a baseball is in fact the most difficult thing to do in sports, well ahead of running a ten yard out pattern or taking a charge against LeBron James. However, when you’re given $56 million and end up hitting roughly .160, you are going to open yourself up for some extra criticism.

HR – The new Miami Marlins logo leaked  this past week and nearly everyone is appalled. The new design will make the team look like a bunch of jai alai players. Quick note, when betting on jai alai, always put money on the heavier set player with a name like Garapudo or Romeo. Those guys always know how to use a cesta.

view from Busch Stadium courtesy of @ColdAsFire_Baby

Monday Musings: Why I Don’t Gamble Edition

I spent my early Sunday afternoon not watching football at the Brooklyn Flea Market. Why you ask would I subject myself to such obvious distraction? Well, as it turns out, the flea market isn’t just peddling second hand wares, it was also a gathering for some of the boroughs finest food carts. I will look back on this day and remember the pastries from Dough and fish tacos from El Diablo Taco Truck. Both were much more satisfying than the first half of New York Jets vs Jacksonville Jaguars.

A Quick Trip Around the Bases

1B – To say Joe Mauer had a disappointing season would be a gross understatement. Mauer, who the Twins deactivated for the remainder of the season after coming down with a case of the midwestern pneumonia, ends his season with a .287 average adding 3 HR and 30 RBI over 82 games. I don’t think this is what Twins fans had in mind when Minnesota signed the home grown catcher to a unprecedented 8 year $184 million contract in 2010. With EJ Manuel hobbled, maybe it’s not too late for Mauer to quarterback the Florida State Seminoles after all.

2B – Why would Prince Fielder decide that now is the time to share with us that he is “probably” in his last year with the Milwaukee Brewers? The Brew Crew are inches away from capturing the NL Central title so now is obviously not the best time for their star first baseman to weigh in on eventual free agency. Also, why make this announcement on TBS? I thought the superstation only ran reruns of NCIS and King of Queens.

3B – Ozzie Guillen for Logan Morrison? Sure, why can’t you try and trade a manager for a player? Makes sense for all parties involved. Marlins get the manager of their dreams just in time to “fill” their new stadium while the White Sox get a young outfielder who will bring along his twitter followers. What could possibly go wrong with this scenario?

HR – Oh, and just in case you thought I forgot, the Red Sox are now only two games in front of the Tampa Bay Rays for the AL Wild Card. But who’s keeping track anyway?

Extra Bases – Sunday was a perfect example of why I don’t gamble on individual football games. I’m part of a weekly pool where we pick winners for every game based on the spread. It’s a fairly low stakes pool, with not much more on the line than some bragging rights with my dad and his coworkers. Yesterday was one of those days where I picked a lot of winners, but those teams managed to cover the spread on only a handful of occasions. The dagger for my day had to be when Dallas, favored by 3.5, completed a pass to rarely used Jesse Holley who carried the ball all the way down to the San Fran 1 yard line before being caught from behind by a 49ers defensive back. Another yard and the Cowboys win and cover. However, rather than run the risk of fumbling on the goal line, Dallas decides to kick the game winning field goal on first down and I, along with thousands of others, lose out. This is why I don’t bet on football on individual football games.

view from Fenway Park courtesy of @MichaelDola

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Musings: A Quick Transition from Baseball to Football

Can’t promise many more baseball centric Monday Musings now that the NFL is here. I’ll probably end up making it a few more weeks before taking the leap over to football. Until then, you’ll have to look elsewhere for some good old fashioned Cam Newton day after fawning.

A Quick Trip Around the Bases

1B – Someone mind telling me why MLB wouldn’t allow the Mets to play in FDNY & NYPD commemorative caps in honor of the 10th anniversary of 9/11? On the surface, this decision strikes me as totally out of touch with the spirit of remembrance and the healing power of baseball. Commisioner Selig has some serious explaining to do.

2B – Unbelievably, the Tampa Bay Rays have climbed all the way back into the wild card race and are poised to overtake the bruised and battle weary Boston Red Sox? With  the injuries piling up in Fenway, it’s a good thing Massachusetts requires all of its citizens to have health care. You can thank Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for that, although, if you were to ask him now about the program he created, he would probably either deny it or say it was a mistake.

3B – As of this morning, the Detroit Tigers are only 4.5 games behind the New York Yankees for best record in the AL and home field throughout the playoffs. If the Tigers do end up with the best record in the AL, file that under the category of reasons Justin Verlander should win both the Cy Young Award and MVP.

HR – For all that has gone wrong in Dodgertown this season – see the divorce of Frank and Jamie McCourt – some credit needs to be given to manager Don Mattingly for keeping things together both on and off the field. LA has an outside chance of overtaking the SF Giants for second place in the NL West, a feat deemed inconceivable at the start of the season. It also helps that the Dodgers have a leading MVP candidate – Matt Kemp – and Cy Young frontrunner – Clayton Kershaw.

Extra Bases – Here are a couple of clips that I enjoy revisiting on and around 9/11. Use the memory of those we lost that day as yet another reason to appreciate each and every day of your life.

view from “The Trop” courtesy of @BradGlovrr 

Monday Musings: Labor Day Edition

Ahhh Labor Day. One of my favorite made up holidays of the year. What exactly are we honoring by not working today? If we were truly trying to pay tribute to the economic and social contributions of workers, shouldn’t we be working? Also, this just in from Madison, Governor Scott Walker has cancelled all state sponsored Labor Day events in Wisconsin. Apparently he didn’t want to send any mixed messages to the thousands of union members who have already lost all collective bargaining rights.

Surprisingly, that’s not the biggest story coming out of Badgerland this weekend. No, Wisco is a flutter with Heismania for Badger QB Russell Wilson who led UW to an impression victory over UNLV Thursday Night in Camp Randall Stadium. But you know how fluid awards hype can be. It was Wilson Thursday night, followed by Baylor QB Robert Griffin III Friday, and now after his performance Sat evening in the Georgia Dome, you can put Boise St. QB Kellen Moore right at the top of the early Heisman list.

Alas, it’s still early September and we have lots of time to argue over who is going to win the major college football awards. Right now our time is still better served talking baseball, particularly where the final month of the regular season is going to take us.

A Quick Trip Around the Bases

1B – Everyone wants to complain about the length of these Red Sox/Yankees games and I have reached the point where I am genuinely fed up with both sides of the argument. If you can’t appreciate Josh Beckett taking 2 minutes in between pitches to chew his gum while staring dimly at catcher Jason Varitek then you should watch something else. Rizzoli and Isles is beginning it’s second season on TNT and remember, they know drama.

2B – This past week, in a desperate attempt to find some sort of offense, the reigning world series champs the San Francisco Giants cut ties with two veterans INF Miguel Tejada and OF Aaron Rowand. No word as to what this means for Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell, and Mike Fontenot who are all having equally anemic seasons at the plate. Where’s Kevin Mitchell when you need him?

3B – Can Albert Pujols really lead the Cardinals all the way back from nearly 10 games behind the NL Central leading Milwaukee Brewers? Is there enough time left in the 2011 season for Prince Albert to raise his average above the .300 mark making it 11 seasons in a row for him hitting .300 with over 30 HR’s, and 100 RBI. Anything’s possible when you’re talking about Pujols. He did after all attend Maple Woods Community College in Kansas City, Missouri.

HR – Finally, September call ups give us fans of even the most inept MLB teams to catch a glimpse of the future and hopefully brighter days ahead. Of course when that future consists of players like Matt Angle and Xavier Avery, how much do we really have to look forward to anyway?

That’s it everybody! Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend and make sure to travel safe.

view from Comerica Park courtesy of @22ptp

Monday Musings: Come On Irene Edition

Happy to announce that this morning’s musings are coming to you live from the Danbury Fair Mall in Danbury, CT. It looks like this in fact the last bastion of electricity in Fairfield County after Hurricane/tropical storm Irene sunk her teeth into the area. Not to complain however because by comparison, it seems we in Connecticut got off easy. The poor people of Brattleboro and White River Junction Vermont, not to mention several counties in northern New Jersey, will be dealing with severe river flooding for the next few days. My dad up in New Hampshire sent me an amazing video from Quechee, VT that shows an old covered bridge being completely swept away by a surging river. You have to hope that the majority of homes and businesses in the area, like the good folks at Simon Pearce, are able to survive the storm with minimal damage.

Until electricity is restored here in Southern New England, people just need to chill out and let the power company do their job. It’s a small inconvenience by comparison and heading into Irene, we all thought it was going to be much worse. I can live with my next door neighbor running his generator through the night, even though the thing is so loud it sounds like the famous squash courts at the University of Chicago. I half expect Dr. Robert Oppenheimer, head of the Manhattan Project, to emerge from the shrubbery and announce: “Mr. President, we have our bomb!” But I digress…

A Quick Trip Around the Bases

1B – My heart goes out to the family of Mike Flanagan, who took his own life early last week outside his rural Baltimore, MD home. Flanagan, a New Hampshire native and Baltimore Orioles great, meant a lot to Birds fans, including my dad. In 1979, the year I was born, Flanagan had perhaps his best season in the bigs, eventually going on to win the AL Cy Young award. To this day, my father can remember rocking me to sleep after a midnight feeding while listening to Flanagan take the mound for the Orioles during a west coast swing.

Lots of folks, friends of Flanagan and sports blogs included, immediately weighed in on what could have caused the happy go lucky southpaw to take his own life. In my opinion, at this point it is careless and insensitive to speculate why Flanagan would commit suicide. What’s important now is for fans to remember the person/player that Flanagan was and

2B – Oh and would the New York Yankees just please stop complaining about all the rainouts and rescheduled games . Orioles manager Buck Showalter took the Bronx Bombers to task by saying that now is not the time to complain about having to play a makeup game on September 8th, a scheduled off day for the Yankees, especially when the entire Baltimore community is busy grieving after the loss of Mike Flanagan. Showalter went on to say that if roles were reversed and a Yankee great had passed away, New York would certainly expect the same common courtesy from the Orioles.

3B – Heck with MLB baseball testing players for HGH, how about they start checking for pedialytes? Due to the incredibly high heat in the Arlington Texas area, Rangers starting pitchers have begun mainlining baby supplements before scheduled starts to avoid dehydration. I don’t know about you but I can’t trust any athlete who hooks into an IV before competing. How do I know whether or not there isn’t some sort of illegal substance in that Gatorade frappe? Pretty soon the television cameras will be able to pick up track marks on the Rangers pitchers.

HR – And speaking of Texas, they are currently embroiled in a race to the finish with the Los Angeles Angels for the AL West crown. With the majority of playoff frontrunners already separating themselves from the rest, baseball fans aren’t going to have many division races to follow this fall. Beyond the AL and NL West, and possibly the AL Central, it looks like the we already have a fairly clear picture of the 2011 postseason.

view from Camden Yards courtesy of @adamjschmidt