Predictorama! 2011: Grand Central

It is time for Part II of Predictorama! 2011, which by now you have probably realized is little more than a mish-mash of nonsense, bias, and brain burps. Of course, 98.7% of this entire blog consists of little more than nonsense, bias, and brain burps.

Anyway, today I present you with my nonsense, bias, and brain burps (in future tense!) as the relate to the NL and AL Central divisions. I have excluded the Cubs, as I hope to churn out a Predictorama piece dedicated to them entirely before the season starts.

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AL Central:

Kansas City journeyman Bruce Chen will take a no-hitter into the ninth inning. I’ll giggle.

Justin Morneau will return from his concussed 2010 season with a secret super power (unfortunately, it’s x-ray vision, which doesn’t really help him in baseball at all.)

I don’t have any predictions  for Detroit. I just want to point out that they have got lead the majors in players native to Virginia.  VA PRIDE!

AL Comeback Player of the Year: Grady Sizemore. Unless he keeps being hurt.

First place: Minnesota Twins

Last place: Cleveland Indians

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NL Central:

Adam Wainwright is totally getting Wally Pipped by Cotton Dickson.

While on an early evening pleasure cruise in the Goodyear Blimp, Prince Fielder suddenly and inexplicably falls from the craft. Fortunately, he is wearing his game jersey, which acts as a parachute and he is able to float safely down to the ground.

Hunter Pence and Ryan Braun will meet and engage in a staring contest. It ends in a draw after 13 hours.

First Place: Because the Cubs aren’t a clever choice, I refuse to pick anyone. I’m bitter like that.

Last Place: Sorry, Pittsburgh, I really am. Well… not really, but sort of.

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2011 Cubs Convention Recap

A good chunk of this post ought to have been put up yesterday. Since that didn’t end up happening, however, I’m just gonna cram it all in today. Double your pleasure, double your fun!

I’m going to plunge right in and try to hit on the highlights. If you’re interested in a more comprehensive recap, look no further than ChicagoCubsOnline.com. They’ve got days 1, 2, AND 3 covered, with actual play-by-play of many of the seminars. So three cheers for the folks at CCO and their fantastical work!

The boys in blue look on during Opening Ceremonies on Friday. Continue reading

Hot Toast Report: “Would you like some toast?”

It’s December already. Can you BELIEVE it? The temperature is dropping ever lower, but fortunately the hot stove is starting to heat up a bit. Here are a few of the names/rumors that have been poppin’ out of the toaster lately.

Troy Tulowitzki signed an extension that will keep him with the Rockies through 2020. Lots of years and lots of money involved. Also, lots of hair (it’s Troy Tulowitzki, after all. Wait, how did he escape my MLB Worst Hair list?) If this was the Cubs, Mr. Tulo would certainly be plagued by constant injuries and a little something called “I-forgot-what-a-bat-is-itis.” Since it’s not the Cubs, I freely extend congratulations to Mr. Tulo AND the Rockies organization on what is sure to be a long and productive relationship.

Derek Jeter has been causing something of a stir. Supposedly, his representatives have actually been contacted by teams other than the Yankees! GASP! I would be shocked if this amounted to anything whatsoever. Fans and media like to indulge in a little off-season soap opera drama, and I think that is why it’s being played up. Derek Jeter has been a Yankee, is a Yankee, and will be a Yankee. (Did you see the fun that The Beckett Blog had with these rumors? Behold.)

The Cubs… so many names of first basemen and starting pitchers have been thrown around that I find it hard to take any rumors seriously. A few of the crumbs I deemed worth chewing on:

Carlos Pena’s name has come up. I love Carlos Pena. I love him. I don’t think that he is the answer to the Cubs problems. I do think I would prefer him to Adam Dunn. Especially if he would sign for a one or two year deal. Someone half-decent to hold us over for a year or two is what the Cubs should be looking for, in my opinion.

Lance Berkman. Lance Berkman? Lance Berkman. Yeah. That would take some getting used to.

Brandon Webb. Injuries, schminjuries. I’d take Brandon Webb in a New York minute. Unfortunately, I think there are plenty of GMs out there who feel the same way. Mr. Webb will return to glory with some other team and the Cubs will end up with Vicente Padilla or Kevin Millwood. Sigh.

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One last thing. The Dodgers shipped Ryan Theriot to St. Louis. If The Riot had any admirers left in Chicago, he lost ’em when he said: “I’m finally on the right side of the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry.” Ha. On a positive note, this comment inspired one of the best Twitter hashtags in recent memory.

Saying Goodbye: Ryan Theriot

Quick note from the writer: It is my intention to keep all “Saying Goodbye” posts free of my opinions on trades themselves, or of their ramifications, etc., The purpose of these posts is purely to commemorate the player who is leaving us, to summarize what he has meant to the Cubs (and perhaps to me personally) during his tenure. In a word, “Saying Goodbye” is concerned with the past, not the future and/or present.

Remember when Ryan Theriot was first coming up, back in 2006? He was like a like a tiny glimmer of light in the inky black abyss of that season. There was a game in September or August, I think, when the Cubs were down 6 or 7 runs to the Dodgers as late as the 6th inning. They came back and stunned everyone by winning. It was probably the best game of the year. Ryan scored the tying run on a shallow sac fly to J.D. Drew. It was the first time I took notice of him. At that point, and continuing into the next few years, Cubs fans were crazy about “The Riot” (don’t pretend otherwise!)

Sadly, our diminutive middle-infielder’s questionable baserunning skills and overly agressive approach at the plate caught up with him. Helped on, I do not doubt, by the fact that the team in general has been bad these last two years, sizable chunks of Cubs nation turned on Mr. Theriot. Very few folks that I know of are sad to see him go, now.

I am not of the same opinion as the masses. I’m not a muddle of tears and mucus, but I am hardly rejoicing at his departure. We had some good times with the Riot as our shortstop, we really did. He is a total mimbo, and thus great fun to laugh at. He hit copious amounts of singles. I mean, he was really good at hitting singles. Poo-poo this skill if you will, but people seem to think that Ichiro Suzuki is the best thing since calculator watches, and all he does is hit singles. A few years back, I sort of named my baby turtle after Mr. Theriot. Riot “the rally turtle” was quite a cool, feisty little guy. Had he been a baseball player, I think he would have been similar to his namesake (a better baserunner, but similar yet.)

To summarize, I certainly bear Ryan no ill-will, and will remember him fondly. Even if nobody else does.

In lieu of a goodbye video, I’m just gonna put this one up. Because it blooming cute.

“He looks like he’s in pain, [but] he can’t say it.”

If you’ve ever been to a major-league baseball game, or visited any number of baseball related websites, you’ve seen them. I’m referring to those player profile photos… you know the ones. They appear in publications and on jumbotrons across the nation. I am certain that, like me, you have noticed these photos, and how terrible they can be. When I say terrible, I mean TERRIBLE. Just, bad bad bad. You would think the Major Leagues could do better. As long as they can’t, though, why not go ahead and make this tantalizing fodder into a fun l’il game?

The object of the “game” is simply to make up situations based on the player’s facial expressions. Is he in pain? Tired? Bloated? Intoxicated? The more creative the better.

Here’s a first round, in which I’ve used pictures from previous years (the 2010 batches should be coming soon.) Feel free to comment with your own captions.

Ryan Theriot – The Riot has been driving for 24 hours straight and also has a case of the sniffles. He is hopped up on caffeine, cold medicine, and gummy worm sours. He has all but lost the will to find another station when Phil Collins starts playing on the radio.

Jose Reyes – Just saw his first shooting star.

Heath Bell – Heath tried to stuff a few boxes of twinkies in his jacket leaving the 7-11 and got busted. This is his mugshot.

Troy Tulowitzki – “Look at the bunny, Troy! Looook at the bunny! Theeere’s a smile! Keep looking at the bunny! Goood boy!” *Click, click, flash*


Johan Santana – Just received some vaccinations. He didn’t cry, and is accepting his lollipop proudly and tremblingly.

Mike Fontenot – Someone just called his mama fat. Look out.

Henry Blanco – Henry is tied to a chair and (off camera) all his family is tied as well. They have been captured by murderous pirates on the high seas. At this moment, several of the captors are holding machine guns to Henry’s family while one of them is shouting at him, “SMILE! Or they all die!

Linktastic Monday!

Once again, here are a collection of noteworthy links to help you start the day and week off right. Now that the spring season has finally dawned, they are pouring in.

MiLB.com recently ran a “Path Of The Pros” piece on Ted Lilly and it’s a must-read. Apparently while he was in the minors, Ted used to play wiffle-ball every day and babysat for one of his managers. For realsies.

Though the diamonds where many of us live are still blanketed in snow, a lot of college seasons are well underway. And a couple Rebels alumni are making noise. Give me a chance to brag on any of those guys, and I’ll do it!

PA Announcer Tim Sheridan’s Boys of Spring blog is unrivaled as far as Cubs spring training coverage goes. Tim keeps us up to date on all the goings-on (trivial and otherwise) and has great photos. Everyone should have Boys of Spring bookmarked.

Mariano Rivera offers an update to Satchel Paige’s famous rules for staying young. You can’t read this whole article unless you’re an “ESPN Insider” (psshhh!) but you get the idea.

It’s common knowledge by now, but the Cubs won their arbitration case against Ryan Theriot. Fortunately, both sides seem to have emerged from the experience unscathed. The Riot reported to camp on Saturday and addressed both the coming season and shortstop-of-the-future Starlin Castro.

I am adding this at the last minute… very sad story about Cubs’ relief pitcher Angel Guzman.

The Hot Wire Sandwich: “I don’t know how, but you’re gonna get me another sandwich. Or I’m gonna cut your face up so bad, you’ll have a chin. YOU’LL ALL HAVE CHINS!”

For those who are in the dark, Hot Wire Sandwich posts consist of little more than my inane commentary on a variety of current events.

-The Cubs have come to terms with all of their arbitration eligible players, save Ryan Theriot. Word has it that The Riot may end up going to a hearing, though I wish very much that this would not be the case. The two parties aren’t all that far apart (about 800k) and arbitration hearings are ugly things. I cannot fathom why the Cubs OR Ryan Theriot would want to let it go that far. I’d been hoping to the last that a settlement would be reached and I could quickly edit this paragraph to something more like, “Cubs agree to terms with all arb-eligible players!  Yayyy!!! Sunshine and lollipops!” Gah. I don’t like this one bit.

-In more agreeable news, Wrigley Field has been getting some touch-ups over the winter. David Kaplan can tell you the particulars. It all sounds lovely to me… I only wish I knew when I’d get to visit the Friendly Confines again to see these things for myself. *Tremulous sigh.*

-This is an outdated tidbit, but the Cubs did sign Kevin Millar to a minor league contract. Excuse me for not jumping up and down. Low-risk/low-reward signings are hard to get excited about.

-Did you hear the one about Milwaukee erecting a statue to honor Bud Selig? It sounds like a joke, but it ain’t.

-PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT NEXT WEEK! At long last! College seasons are getting under way, as well. Be excited, my friends.

-The winter Olympics in Vancouver are about to begin! Bobsleds! Speed skating! Luge! Hockey! I’ll be watching, will you?