Playoff Predictorama! 2011

Well folks, as the walrus said, the time has come. The MLB postseason kicks off today, which here at The FBB means it is once again Predictorama! time (playoff style.) It is hard to imagine that this year’s postseason could possibly be as awesome as the final days of the regular season, but you never know. That’s why they play the games, and that’s why we watch them.

And now, for the all-important prediculations!

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ALDS

Tigers vs. Yankees: Wait, the Tigers are in these playoffs? When and where did that happen and how did I miss it? I assume that Detroit will be relying heavily on the Justin Verlander magic in this series. I think (and certainly hope) that we will see some heroics from Mr. Verlander, but I don’t think it’ll be enough to save the Tigers. I predict that the Yankees will take the series, and Justin’s (well-deserved) Cy Young award will be Detroit’s consolation prize.

Rays vs. Rangers: I guess I don’t have to go out on a limb to say that one of the two teams I favor the most will be eliminated in the first round, seeing as they’re playing each other. T’isn’t fair, I say. We will soon find out whether or not Tampa used up all their fairy dust in September. I think they’ll have just enough left to take this series from the 2010 AL pennant winners. I say they win it in 5 games and the series clincher comes on an uber-dramatic walk-off suicide squeeze in the bottom of the 14th inning of game #5. I also predict that Sam Fuld will sparkle and that Ian Kinsler will somehow be the goat of this series.

NLDS

Phillies vs. Cardinals: Blech. If there is one series with not a shred of interestingness and with no possible happy outcome, this is it. The Phillies will win it. They will probably sweep it, if I had to guess (which I do.) And it will be super boring, unless Roy Halladay decided to whirl another no-hitter. Even that would be kind of “meh.” Just wake me up when this one is over.

Diamondbacks vs. Brewers: If I know anything about NL Central contenders (and I think I do), Milwaukee doesn’t stand a chance. If history is any indicator, look for another sweep. Of course, I don’t think anyone would be surprised to know that I am backing Arizona all the way on the NL side. If the Brewers did somehow pull it out, I’d throw a hissy fit. Get it? *Nudge* *Nudge*

ALCS

Yankees vs. Rays: A nation will collectively curse beneath it’s breath when the Yankees take it in 5 games, ending the Rays fairy tale run. Yes, that’s right. Unless it’s wrong, which it could be.

NLCS

Phillies vs. Diamondbacks: Since I based my choice for the ALCS on cold, hard reality, I’ll base this one on wishful thinking. I don’t honestly expect the Diamondbacks to win. The Phillies will probably clinch it without breaking a sweat. But since I don’t want that to happen, and because that is what everyone is probably going to say, I’m calling the Diamondbacks in six. There’s a good chance I turn out to be wrong, but if I’m not, how cool am I going to look?

World Series

Yankees vs. Diamondbacks: Oooh, you guys! De ja vu! De ja vu! It’s 2001 again! Only… it isn’t. I don’t think that Mariano Rivera really needs to redeem himself from that Game 7 blown save 10 years ago, but he will do it anyway. I’m givin’ it to the Yankees. In six games. Take that as you will.

Baby sloth: too sweet to pick favorites.

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Predictorama! 2011: Into The West

Welcome to the third installment of my annual divisional prognostications! Today we finish up with the American and National League West divisions. Why not just plunge right in?

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AL West:

2010 Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez will make 30 quality starts and win less than half of them. Larry Bernandez will make 27 quality starts and win less than a third of them.

Jerry Blevins will lose 4 pounds as the result of a stomach flu and on the first breezy day will float away like a dandelion spore.

Howie Kendrick will take up knitting!

Elvis Andrus will learn to tap dance and cement his status as the Shirley Temple of major league baseball.

First Place: Oakland A’s (because I want to go out on a limb somewhere.)

Last Place: Seattle Mariners

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NL West:

Carlos Gonzalez will hit 18 more home runs and Troy Tulowitzki 4 more cycles off of Cubs pitching.

I don’t have any predictions for Arizona. I just want to point out that I was wrong about Detroit… the Diamondbacks also have 3 Virginia natives on their roster (Justin Upton, Joe Saunders, and Daniel Hudson.) I, for one, never would have thunk it. 

Now bereft of their All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, the Padres offense will not hit a home run in Petco Park once the entire 2011 season.

Ted Lilly will hit a home run… at Petco Park. Dun dun dun!

Freddy Sanchez will discover and re-popularize “The Freddie.”

First Place: Colorado Rockies

Last Place: San Diego Padres

NL Wildcard Winner: San Francisco Giants

 


 

 

 



 

2010 MLB Year in Superlatives: Part One

The 2010 Major League baseball season is officially over and done with. Now that the off-season  has commenced, I can think of nothing better to do than to take a look back at the events, the highs and lows, the quirks of 2010. Lets think of it as a baseball funeral… but let us not consider it a sad event, the passing away of this season. Instead let us celebrate the wonder of the season that was!

This is the first of two FBB installments on the 2010 MLB Year in Superlatives.

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Most Bizarre Injuries: On the American League side the distinction goes to the Angels Kendry Morales for breaking his leg in the happy victory huddle at home plate after he’d hit a walk off grand slam. A happy victory huddle never turned into a sad defeat huddle so fast. I bestow the title #1 freaky injury on the National League side upon Tyler Colvin (who we now- thankfully- know for sure is not a vampire.)

Honorable mentions: Mat Latos, who went down holding in a sneeze and Marcus Thames, who tripped on his own bat and landed on the DL.

Greatest commercial cameo: Randy Johnson’s snowball bit for Geico. I can’t be the only one who thought this was stinking funny.

Biggest surprise(s): First, the San Diego Padres. They may have just missed the playoffs, but who expected them to even be close? I know I didn’t. Second, Jose Bautista. The man is 30 years old, was entering his seventh year in the majors, was playing for his sixth team, and nobody knew his name. Guys like that don’t usually end up hitting 54 home runs.

Biggest disappointment: Who else is deeply embarrassed for thinking that the Seattle Mariners would be good this year? I know I’m not the only guilty party. The really sad thing is that they weren’t just not-good. They were the very definition of stinky.

Happiest news out of Japan: The at-last unleashed offensive fury of Matt Murton. I always knew he had it in him.

Best Names from the Draft: Corderius Dodd. Trugg Larsson-Danforth. Roderick Shoulders. Theophilus Griffin. Sebastian Vader. Gauntlett Eldemire.

Best Worst Headline: Pirates’ plan is to acquire talent from Draft

Worst Gun-Jumping Journalism: Remember when, for a few hours, Cliff Lee was “traded to the Yankees”?

Best Slide: Fordham’s Brian Kownacki turned in not just the best slide of this year, but perhaps the greatest slide in history.

Photo of the Year: Or at least, photo-of-the-year-that-looks-like-it-would-be-a-painting.

Photo of the post-season: Does anyone in this picture really have a clue what they are doing with their hands?


Weirdest Photo of the Year: Xavier Nady is not the man you think he is.

Feel-good moment of the year: Dallas Braden’s perfect game on Mother’s Day had to be 2010’s warmest, fuzziest event.

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Look for 2010 MLB Year in Superlatives: Part Two coming up later this week!

“Toasted Ranger, anyone?”

Before I say anything, let me just state that the title of this post does not imply that I assume Texas is toast (Rhyme!) I simply happened to have the quote in my database and figured a more opportune time to use it was not likely to soon present itself.

The Rangers may not be toast yet, but the fact is, they have their backs to the wall. Both their fans and bloggers who picked them to win are now nervous. Coming back isn’t impossible, but it ain’t looking likely.

Tonight’s game will feature the repeat match-up of Timmy Lincecum and Cliff Lee. While the first go-around of this battle-of-aces was a thorough disappointment, I think round two will be different. I think (or at least hope) that both pitchers will be their acey selves this time. But who has the edge? This is the way I see it, broken down into a few important factors:

Track Records : This is Mr. Lincecum’s first postseason and World Series, and only Mr. Lee’s second so this factor doesn’t hold too much weight. Both pitchers have performed very well in their limited postseason experience. I see the scales tipped ever so slightly in Mr. Lee’s favor.

Composure: Not that Timmy is uncomposed or anything, but this category I also give to Mr. Lee. He always seems to eat pressure for brunch.

Hair: If any pitcher is capable of drawing some Samsonian power from his locks, it is Mr. Lincecum.

Height: Mr. Lee obviously gets this one. Sorry, Tim… it’s only fair.

Hitting: Unfortunately, neither pitcher will get to hit tonight in Texas. Cliff Lee would best Mr. Lincecum if they did. I consider it a true shame he’s been an American League lifer.

Middle Names: This one is tough. Clifton Phifer Lee or Timothy LeRoy Lincecum. In the end, I have to go with Mr. Lincecum purely because another great pitcher by the name of Halladay also bears the middle name LeRoy.

Offense & Defense: Who will be face the tougher batters, and who will be better supported their teammates? It’s impossible to know for sure. On one hand, Texas put forward some of the best offensive stats of any team during the regular season. On the other hand, the Rangers bats have been effectively silenced thus far and the Giants hitters have burst out from outta nowhere. On a third hand, it is hard to believe that such a potent offense as Texas has will be kept at bay for very long. Whether it is too late for them to salvage the series or not, I feel that the Rangers offense will do enough to support Mr. Lee tonight.

The Bottom Line: I’m giving this one to Cliff Lee and his Rangers. I think they will live to fight another day. There is still, of course, the very real possibility that tonight’s game will be the last of the 2010 Major League Baseball season. I highly recommend tuning in. You know… just in case.

R is for Rookie

In honor of the American and National League Championship Series, we’re going to take a fun little stroll down memory lane and revisit what some of the more prominent players looked like as rookies (or, even better, minor leaguers.) Why? Because it’s fun.

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NLCS

Tim Lincecum: Insert your own caption here. My head is about to explode with all the possibilities…

Jimmy Rollins: You know how in some sitcoms they’ll do flashback episodes and give the main characters ridiculous hairstyles to communicate the point that they’re supposed to be younger? It’s the sort of thing audiences laugh at because it is so silly and unrealistic. Yet if you put a braided wig on Jimmy Rollins now… would he not look exactly the same as he does on this card?

Harry Leroy Halladay:

Jayson Werth: I know that I have posted this photo before, but I simply can’t get over it.ALCS

Kerry Wood: Before he lost the baby fat.

CC Sabathia: His baby fat never went anywhere.

Derek Jeter: I could have produced an entire gallery of just amusing Derek Jeter rookie photos. Not even joking.

Josh Hamilton: The face is the same… the forearms, not so much.

Vladimir Guerrero: When Vladdy was but a laddy.

Cliff Lee: Clifton Phifer Lee looks exactly the same now as he did 8 years ago. Ten bucks says that another 8 years won’t change him a bit, either.

Postseason Roundup, Round One

2010 has certainly lived up to its billing as “Year of the Pitcher” in the first round of the playoffs. Roy Halladay did his thing. Cole Hamels: complete game shutout. Tim Lincecum: complete game shutout. Jonathan Sanchez: 7.1 innings, 1 run. Tim Hudson: 7 shutout innings. Phil Hughes: 7 runless innings. Cliff Lee: 16 total innings, 2 runs. CJ Wilson: 6.1 scoreless frames. Strikeouts are comin’ out the wazoo, and bases on balls are an endangered species. You know guys must be doing pretty well when you can make fun of Matt Garza’s 1 run in 6 innings. The only stinky pitching came from the quarters of Minnesota and Cincinnati. Even that wasn’t all stinky. Bronson Arroyo did alright. Seriously though, if this continues I expect the remainder of the postseason to be all kinds of delicious. (A Barry Zito-CJ Wilson World Series pitching match-up is still my ultimate dream.)

But how did my predictions hold up through round one? Behold:

Philly over Cincy in the battle of red-colored NL teams I can’t stand? Check. Kooky, quirky San Francisco over Bobby Cox’s Bravos? Check. Yankees over the Twins? Obviously. And the nail-biting down to the wire Rays-Rangers series? RANGERS TAKE IT!!! * Fist Pump * On a side note, if you are interested, tomorrow’s winning lottery numbers are: 10 14 23 26 31 and 42.

Here are some photographic highlights from the opening round series (one for each team):

Texas celebrates its series win with ginger ale so as to include Josh Hamilton in the festivities. A commendable decision, to say in the least.

You can cut your hair now, Mr. Longoria.

The San Francisco Giants offer a salute to Atlanta’s Bobby Cox after their series win. Classy.

Bobby says goodbye

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No October smiles for Brandon Phillips.

Is it cold, CC?

See you next year, Mr. Mauer.

Post Season’s Greetings!

Well, my friends, the post season is upon us. What twists and turns lie in store for the eight best teams in baseball? I hope everyone will be watching to find out, even if the none of the eight teams in question hold a special place in your heart. There are still plenty of teams worth rooting for… and against.

I have collected a thought or two to share for each team, and list them here in order of least-to-most likable.

8. Philadelphia Phillies

I am ready for the Phillies time of greatness to be over. The team is so old that I have to think it soon will be. If their glorified pitching staff and punchy offense do end up carring them as far as is generally expected, it will be to my chagrin.

7. Cincinnati Reds

Call me a bitter Cubs fan, but I simply cannot wish the Red any success. The only thing I like about this team is Brandon Phillips’ smile, and I am sure that if they went all the way, it would break his face.

6. New York Yankees

I am not a rabid anti-Yankee person, I just think they should let someone else have a turn this year. If they were to repeat, I would be truly happy for one solitary reason (Kerry Wood, of course.)

5. Atlanta Braves

Sure, it’d make a great story for the Bravos to win it all in Bobby Cox’s final season, but… meh. It’s a good enough story that they made the playoffs, in my book.

4. San Francisco Giants

I am willing to let go of the Cubs-Giants grudgery of ages past (I can be a forgiving fan, see?) We did humiliate them in 1908, after all. Besides, they’ve got Little Babe Ruth now. And Buster Posey is fun to watch. And Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito, and Brian Wilson are fun to laugh at.

3. Tampa Bay Rays

The [Devil] Rays spent just long enough being the laughing stock of the major leagues as to give me pleasure in seeing them experience some success. I also like Carlos Pena and Ben Zobrist.

2. Minnesota Twins

Jim Thome has played in the post season eight times without ever having won a World Series. I like Jim Thome and this fact makes me sad.

1. Texas Rangers

I do not, in fact, like the Rangers any more than the Twins. But Minnesota won a championship in 1991. In Cubs years, that’s like yesterday.

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And here are a few bonus thoughts/opinions!

Match-up that would disgust me:

Yankees vs. Phillies

Match-ups that would bore me:

Yankees vs. Braves (The ’90’s are over.)

Rays vs. Phillies (So is 2008.)

Match-ups that I would watch with interest and pleasure:

Rangers vs. Giants (Think of the pitching match-ups! Cy Young winners Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee! Mimbos Barry Zito and CJ Wilson!)

Twins vs. Braves (Think of the catching match-up! Joe Mauer and Brian McCann! Actually, a Twins-Giants [Mauer-Posey] contest would be almost as agreeable.)

Actual Predictions:

If I get this right, everyone owes me a jar of Nutella. To form these guesses, I used equal parts common sense and wishful thinking.

NLDS- I think that Philadelphia will dispatch Cincinnati. San Francisco will edge out Atlanta.

ALCS- I think that the Yankees will beat the Twins, and the Rangers will upset the Rays.

NLCS- The Phillies will come out on top of the Giants.

NCIS- I don’t know, I don’t watch that show.

ALCS- The Rangers will triumph over the Yankees.

World Series- I predict the Rangers will somehow defeat the Phillies. They already beat the Rays and Yankees, so why not? Like I said, wishful thinking.