If the Florida Miami Marlins Brass Ran Baseball: An EJSIC Hypothetical

Last night saw the ushering in of a new era of baseball in South Florida.  The newly re-minted Miami Marlins opened the 2012 season playing host to the St. Louis Cardinals in their brand-spanking-new, $515 millon ballpark.

And it’s a doozy.

I’ve made my thoughts known on this ballpark and its inhabitants here before, so I won’t drone on and on in this post about the eye-piercing color schemes, the overgrown bath toy in center field or any of the other “qualities” that set this park apart from all the others. I also will not dwell on the My Little Pony fetus of a new logo the team has donned.

I shall name him Fluttershy Jr.

Instead, I would rather focus on the, somewhat humorous, notion of what other, more understated, teams across Major League Baseball would look like if the owners and marketing folks at the Marlins got a hold of them.

So, we threw it around the conference room and here are some of the ideas we came up with: Continue reading

MLB 2012 Season Preview

Hello Jerks and Jerkettes. Today, we are ready to embrace the newest season of God’s sporting gift to man. That’s right, baseball is back. Apple pie, Chevrolet, and all the extras are with it, too. Hop on board the train as I offer division winners (and losers), major award winners, and playoff predictions all six months ahead of schedule and sure to be wrong.

American League East

Baseball’s juggernaut division and ESPN favorite will again feature three really good teams: the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox. Don’t discount the Blue Jays, but they are not quite ready to compete. As for the Orioles? Enjoy the crab cake at Camden Yards.

1. New York Yankees
2. Tampa Bay Rays (wildcard)
3. Boston Red Sox
4. Toronto Blue Jays
5. Baltimore Orioles

American League Central

Conventional wisdom says its Detroit and then everyone else. As to not upset that balance, I’ll stick with conventional wisdom. Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, and Justin Verlander will spear the Tigers’ three-headed attack as they run away with this division.

1. Detroit Tigers
2. Kansas City Royals
3. Cleveland Indians
4. Minnesota Twins
5. Chicago White Sox

American League West

This division receive most of the media attention during the off-season thanks to three big transactions. Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson (the best player and best pitcher on the market) joined the Angels while the Texas Rangers replaced Wilson with Japanese import Yu Darvish. The race for division champion should be intriguing all summer long.

1. Texas Rangers
2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (wildcard)
3. Seattle Mariners
4. Oakland A’s

American League Awards

Cy Young: Felix Hernandez (Seattle). A return to dominance with a slightly improved offense behind him.

MVP: Josh Hamilton (Texas). It’s a contract year.

Yu Darvish

Rookie of the Year: Yu Darvish (Texas).

American League Playoffs

Wildcard play-in: Angels over Rays

Divisional Round: Rangers over Yankees; Tigers over Angels

League Championship Series: Rangers over Tigers (again)

National League East

A crazy thing happened this off-season. The now Miami Marlins spent money on free agents (Jose Reyes and Mark Buerhle notably). The Phillies and Braves appear strong as usual. Plus, the Nationals young core is ever-improving. The Mets, you say? Uh… Long season.

1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. Atlanta Braves (wildcard)
3. Miami Marlins
4. Washington Nationals
5. New York Mets

National League Central

Although this division is home to the defending champions, it looks much weaker from last season. The Brewers and Cardinals are worse (though still good teams), and no one else has really stepped it up. Can Dusty Baker manage the Reds back into the playoffs? I think so.

1. Cincinnati Reds
2. St. Louis Cardinals
3. Milwaukee Brewers
4. Pittsburgh Pirates
5. Chicago Cubs
6. Houston Astros

National League West

Tougher than the NL Central, the wild West usually produces a surprise contender each season. Maybe that occurs again, but regardless, this division is between the Giants and the Diamondbacks.

1. Arizona Diamondbacks
2. San Francisco Giants (wildcard)
3. Colorado Rockies
4. Los Angeles Dodgers
5. San Diego Padres

National League Awards

Cy Young: Cole Hamels (Philadelphia). He’ll prove how good he is before signing with the Dodgers in the off-season.

Tulo!

MVP: Troy Tulowitzki (Colorado). The best shortstop in the game has to win this award sometime. Better now than never.

Rookie of the Year: Bryce Harper (Washington). Yes, he’s not on the Opening Day roster, but he could easily be called up mid-season. There’s no one else really strong enough to win it right now.

National League Playoffs

Wild Card Play-in: Braves over Giants

Divisional Round: Diamondbacks over Braves; Phillies over Reds

League Championship Series: Diamondbacks over Phillies

World Series

Rangers over Diamondbacks (in 5 games).

Enjoy the next few days, America. Play ball!

A “Big Hit” for the Future of Baseball?

March Madness. We love it. We live it. We breathe it. We drive our families and friends crazy with talk of brackets and upsets. For three weeks in March, it’s the ONLY thing that matters, until it’s over. At that point, the annual, “Oh no, what now?” feeling kicks in.

What’s next is baseball. Spring training is already in full swing. Opening day of the regular baseball season is just two weeks away and it’s time to start planning your fantasy league and dreaming of that breakout offensive season that no one else picked.

This year, there might be a LOT of increased offensive production if what I’m hearing about a new baseball bat is true. Baden Sports–you may be more familiar with their basketballs–has recently introduced a new baseball bat called the Axe. This is the first major change to the shape of a bat in over a century.

I spoke with the company and one of the first things they told me was that Ted Williams says in his book, “The Science of Hitting,” that swinging a baseball bat is like swinging an axe. Apparently, an axe handle guides your hand into a proper position that fits flush at the bottom and increases leverage through the swing–something that a traditional baseball bat doesn’t do.

Baden says: “The Axe bat promotes an ergonomically correct grip, a better fit, a less restricted swing and greater bat speed through the hitting zone.”

Who’s using it and what are the results?

Rollins hit a deep solo home run over the left field fence with the new Axe baseball bat from Baden. (AP/Kathy Willens)

Since this is such a new bat, big league players are just being introduced to it. It’s been approved for use in MLB games in 2012, so the company is currently working with players at spring training. They can’t “name names,” but they will say that players from every club are taking at least practice swings and becoming familiar with the bat.

Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies hit a monster home run–his first of the season—on March 12 against the Pirates with the Axe bat. He’d been practicing with it, and his first time to the plate with the Axe someone from the dugout yelled, “Let loose with that bat, Jimmy!” He did, and hit it DEEP over the left field wall.


That was the first “official” home run, but I’ve done some digging and found a reliable report that among others, Oakland As first baseman Brandon Allen enjoyed his first outing with the Axe. On opening day of spring training, Allen hit a grand slam, a two-run double and drove in the go-ahead run in the 9th … all with the Axe. 7 RBIs. Not bad.

So maybe there’s something to this new Axe baseball bat. Time will tell, but since my basketball team didn’t even make March Madness this year, my tears are close to drying and I’m getting a jump start on putting a miserable basketball season behind me.

Baseball will fill my sports cravings over the next 6 months, and I’m paying close attention to what’s happening with the Axe bat.

Bandwagoning Baseball’s Finality

Has your favorite baseball team been eliminated from post-season play? Do you remain reluctant to dive headfirst into football 24/7? Are you willing to set aside your normal allegiance for the next month and a half and bandwagon a contender for the sake of shit-talking and a possible faux championship?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, or preferably to all three, then it’s time for you to hop on the shoulders of a more successful fanbase a la Carlos Mencia’s “comedy” routine (yes, I just Mencia’d a Mencia joke). EJSIC is here to rank the possible teams on a scale of 1 to 10; 10 being fully bandwagon-worthy, 1 meaning we’d rather root for Hitler.

Let’s start with the American League and work our way through the pennant chasers there before exploring the National League.

Note: the author of this post is anti-DH, but in the interest of fairness will attempt to reasonably grade the AL teams instead of giving all of them the 1 they so deserve.

American League

1. New York Yankees: THE EVIL EMPIRE! That should be enough for you to realize that only intolerable douches and fans of the Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Lakers, and Duke Blue Devils (sorry, repetitive) “root” for these guys. Seriously, they’ve won more Fall Classics in baseball history than any other team. They also possess the deepest wallet, the NY superiority belief, and include Cleveland native LeBron James as a fan. Do NOT bandwagon under any circumstance. Score – 1

2. Boston Red Sox: The Sox are 2.5 games behind the Yankees for the East crown, but with a comfy 6.5 games up in the Wild Card they’re virtually in. This is the same franchise that defeated an eight-decade curse with two World Series titles since 2004. And when the core of that team aged too much, they went out and splashed Yankee-esque money this off-season. While I find them more root-worthy than their arch-rivals, there’s no need to really bandwagon them for their fans have been treated to championships in all four major sports this decade. Score – 2

Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em

3. Detroit Tigers: Detroit has slowly put the AL Central away over the second half of the season. Aside from playing in a collapsing shit-hole of a city, what’s not to like? They have a chain-smoking manager who puffs during games, an ace pitcher who could seemingly throw a no-hitter each time out, and an alcoholic first baseman. Sounds like a recipe for bandwagon awesomeness to me. The only downside? They’re in the same league as the Yankees and Red Sox so a championship is unlikely to come this season. Regardless, you’ll have a good time. Score – 8

4. Texas Rangers: The defending AL Champs refueled after losing ace Cliff Lee to free agency, and yet they’re right here again. If you like offensive baseball, the Rangers are your team. They’ve crossed home 737 times this season, third best in baseball behind the Yankees and Sox. They also maintain a relatively unknown squad. Some guys (like Michael Young and Josh Hamilton) are known nationally, but many of their better players have yet to receive a lot of national pub (Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz). So if your choice is the Rangers, it would help to do some research and not unveil yourself as a bandwagoner within the first five minutes. Score – 7

5. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Really, these guys should get a one for having the worst name in baseball. Pick a damn city. I could also give them a one for the owner complaining after whiffing on free agent Carl Crawford this season despite the fact that the Angels have plenty of money themselves. You lost out to a better organization, STFU and get over it. However, the Angels assumed an underdog role this season winning ball games with great pitching. Their offensively challenged team has scored 586 runs to date, the worst of any AL challengers. They’re also 2.5 games back of the Rangers so they have some work to do. Score – 4 Continue reading

What’s a no-hitter worth?

Last night, Minnesota Twins’ pitcher Francisco Liriano threw the first no-hitter of the 2011 Major League Baseball season. No-nos are so rare that they are entrenched in baseball lore alongside the perfect game. With new statistics developed over the last twenty years, the no-hitters value is changing.

Famous baseball statistician Bill James created the GameScore. The tool seeks to measure a pitcher’s value over the course of a single game. The GameScore has since been translated to position players under a different formula and name, but James’ formula remains the go-to for evaluating a pitcher’s performance.

Warning: some math will follow. The formula itself begins with the number 50. 50 represents the average score of a single game. Any final score above 50 is an above average performance, while anything below 50 is sub-average. Then outs, innings pitched, and strikeouts are added to the number while hits, earned runs, unearned runs, and walks are subtracted from the number. All put together, the formula = 50 + 1* Outs (recorded) + 2*IP after the 4th + 1*K – 2*H – 4*ER – 2*Unearned Runs – 1*BB.

Liriano’s no-hitter scored an 83 on James’ formula. An 83 doesn’t sound too bad, right? That’s good enough for a B in grade school and college. But it’s only the fourteenth best game pitched this season. Four pitchers have scored 90 or above this season: Cliff Lee with the season’s best (to date) 92, Dan Haren and Ian Kennedy each with a 91 score game, and Tim Hudson with a 90 (he just finished that game about an hour ago).

Francisco Liriano

Other pitchers ahead of Liriano include Anibal Sanchez (89), Josh Beckett (87), Kyle Lohse (87), Dice-K Matsuzaka (86), Jaime Garcia (86), Carlos Zambrano (85), Chad Billingsley (85), Jason Marquis (84), James Shields (84), Roy Halladay (83), Shields again (83), and Yovani Gallardo (83). Obviously, Liriano is in a four-way ties for fourteenth, but the fact remains that his no-hitter is not worth as much as the aura that surrounds the unique feat.

So what brought down Liriano’s score? Obviously it wasn’t the outs recorded or the number of innings pitched past the fourth inning. His low strikeout total (2 for the game) hurt. In fact, of the twenty best games pitched this season, only Gallardo had an equally low strikeout total. No other pitcher in the top twenty games struck out less than six. Another element that doomed Liriano was his high walk total. He issued six free passes to the White Sox in the game which accounted for twice as much as any other pitcher in the the top twenty games.

In 2010, there were five no-hitters (not counting Halladay’s post-season no-no). Ubaldo Jimenez, Roy Halladay, Dallas Braden, Edwin Jackson, and Matt Garza each accomplished the feat during MLB’s 162 game season. Yet, only three of those fantastic performances made the top twenty pitched games according to GameScore: Halladay second with a 98, Braden tied for fourth with a 93, and Garza tied for seventh with a 92. Halladay’s playoff no-hitter scored a 94. The very next day, Giants’ ace Tim Lincecum scored a 96 for a two-hit shutout over the Atlanta Braves.

Roy Halladay

Avoiding the GameScore metric for just a second, all of these games are well-pitched and deserve recognition. However, if you asked the average fan, which of the games is better, I’m betting they’d pick the no-hitter 99 times out of 100. And their choice may be justified. Then again, they may be choosing the worse performance (I know, really nit-picking here).

The point, though, is that baseball fans and statisticians have introduced interesting new measures of a player’s effectiveness over the last two decades. Tradition will continue to favor the no-hitter. Baseball has been around for nearly 150 years, and that doesn’t go away over a single game or twenty years of new formulas.

No-hitters are great to watch. They have everything a fan wants: heart-pounding excitement, anticipation, a great defensive play or two saving the game, etc. Just know, they’re not the only way to gauge a pitcher’s performance.

If you’d like to follow GameScore throughout the season, click here.

The MLB Preview / Prediction Post

Unfortunately, due to time constraints, I will not be able to bring a week-long celebration of all things baseball to EJSIC this season. Instead, it will be a giant entry found below. I’ll provide a snippet of each team in each division, ranking the teams in order of my projected finishes. Then, as an added bonus, I’ll throw in some major award predictions and playoff prognostications sure to be wrong. Enjoy.

AL East

Red Sox New LF Carl Crawford

1. Boston Red Sox: The Sox won the off-season with additions of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. Now they look to bring a third championship to Chesapeake Bay since 2004.

2. New York Yankees: Jeter’s building mansions and signing new contracts, A-Rod is toning his body and being fed popcorn by a superstar, C.C. cut out Captain Crunch, and the rest of the news is meaningless in Yankee country. Joe Girardi has his toughest challenge ahead in catching the Sox with a battered starting rotation.

3. Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays bring in some new faces this season in key positions (LF, 1B, and SP). They’re probably too green to beat the Red Sox this season, but that’s why they play 162.

4. Baltimore Orioles: The O’s showed signs of life under Buck Showalter last season. Can they carry it over to April and beyond? Depends upon how good future ace Brian Matusz is in his second year in the bigs.

5. Toronto Blue Jays: Just when the birds of the Great White North finally shed the albatross contracts of Vernon Wells and Alex Rios, they commit $62 million to a guy who had never hit more than 16 HRs in a season until mashing 54 last year. Oh well, they’re not winning any time soon anyway.

AL Central

1. Minnesota Twins: Some injuries and slow starts have dominated Twins’ news in Spring Training. These guys always find a way to win though. Don’t count ‘em out (unless they play the Yanks in October, then bet your house against it).

2. Chicago White Sox: I really wanted to list the South-siders as numero uno in the AL Central. They may very well finish there, but on-going health concerns with Jake Peavy and other pitchers leave the Chi Sox behind the Twins on paper.

3. Detroit Tigers: I liked Detroit’s off-season, until Miguel Cabrera’s DUI. Even then, not sure they have the talent to overtake the Twins.

4. Cleveland Indians: Shin Soo Choo is probably the best RF in baseball you’ve never heard of, and they have a future star at catcher, Carlos Santana (not the rock legend), but this team is still not close to competing.

5. Kansas City Royals: It could be really bad in KC this season. I mean, extremely, never-before-seen Royals bad. But the future is bright. Numerous outlets labeled the Royals’ farm system the best in baseball. That has to count for something, right?

AL West

Oakland's Young Ace Dallas Braden

1. Oakland A’s: Want a team that could replicate last season’s Giants? Look no further than north of the bay. The A’s are loaded with pitching; in fact their staff led all of baseball in quality starts last season. The downside? Like the defending champs, a struggling offense could derail their season.

2. Texas Rangers: Cliff Lee is gone which leaves a huge hole in their rotation. Plus, their starters were taxed to career highs last season. I still love this offense with Josh Hamilton in the middle, but their pitching is worrisome.

3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: They dominated the late off-season by foolishly taking on Vernon Wells’ contract after whiffing on target Carl Crawford. Their pitching will be good enough to keep the halos alive through the summer, but unless a mid-season bat arrives, they probably just don’t have quite enough.

4. Seattle Mariners: King Felix Hernandez rightfully won the Cy Young last season. And he’ll probably be in contention for the award throughout the next decade. He, along with Ichiro, are lone bright spots for a struggling franchise.

NL East

1. Philadelphia Phillies: They have to be favorites in the division because of their rotation. However, Chase Utley’s long-term health is a major question mark as is the replacement of RF Jayson Werth who moved to Washington in the off-season. Most analysts are putting the Fightin’s on a crash course with the Bo-Sox in the World Series.

2. Atlanta Braves: The Braves finally addressed their need of a power hitter by trading for 30 HR man Dan Uggla. Their pitching staff will remain a strength of the team. Atlanta may be closer to the Phillies then some analysts originally thought.

3. Florida Marlins: The Marlins are dark-horse team in this division. They traded away Uggla, but they also rebuilt their bullpen after it cost them numerous games last season. Josh Johnson is a Cy Young in waiting.

4. New York Mets: I wanted to peg this team for the cellar, but they can’t be that bad, can they? Maybe they can. Their pitching staff is horrendous, and there’s no telling when Johan Santana will return or how effective he’ll be. Jose Reyes could be on the move by mid-season.

5. Washington Nationals: No Strasbourg or Harper this season, but they have the $100 million dollar Grizzly Adams in RF (Jayson Werth). The Nats do have, in my opinion, the best 3B in all of baseball, Ryan Zimmerman. He really should receive more attention.

NL Central

1. Cincinnati Reds: A little magic and an easy schedule propelled the Reds back into the postseason where they were promptly swept by the Phillies. Cincinnati returns most of that team plus the added experience of playoff baseball. I like the Reds to repeat as NL Central champions.

New Brewers' Ace Zack Grienke

2. Milwaukee Brewers: A trendy pick to win the division with their off-season acquisitions of Zack Grienke and Shaun Marcum, the Brew Crew are exciting fans in Milwaukee. And although I can see them winning the division, there’s still some reservation with this team; particularly defense.

3. St. Louis Cardinals: No Adam Wainwright will be the death-nail of the Cards in 2011. Pitching coach Dave Duncan has worked miracles before, but losing one of the best 6 pitchers in all of baseball (check the stats if you don’t believe me) cannot be replaced. And so begins a long season with the fate of the game’s best player unknown.

4. Chicago Cubs: Mike Quade performed admirably down the stretch after Sweet Lou rode into the sunset, but the Cubs still remain a cash-strapped, aging team. I don’t think they have enough to compete for 162.

5. Houston Astros: The Astros believe they can win this season with their pitching. I’m not so optimistic. They’re always a second half team so maybe they turn a few heads and make things interesting in August, but there’s not enough on this team currently to make any objective viewer believe they can compete with the top of the division. Then again, this is the weakest division in baseball again.

6. Pittsburgh Pirates: Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez are solid young franchise centerpieces that could help return the Pirates to past glory. They need some pitching help first though. The Bucs are a franchise on the (slight) rise, but not this season.

NL West

1. Colorado Rockies: I picked them to go to the World Series last season, and I’m not backing off too much after a less-than-expected performance last year. Ubaldo Jiminez, Troy Tulowitzki, and Carlos Gonzalez mark the core of a Rockies franchise that should be regularly competing for the next decade. They get the job done this season.

Future 2011 MVP Troy Tulowitzki

2. San Francisco Giants: The defending champs rode their strength (pitching) to a championship last season. But their talented hurlers threw career-highs in innings last season. Will it affect them Giants? Historical stats point to yes. Giants come up a little short this season.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers: Look for LA to bounce back this season and remain in the hunt for the division title through September only to come up a little short. Matt Kemp will be a name to keep an eye on as he looks to bounce back from a career worst season.

4. San Diego Padres: The Padres won 90 games last year and barring a late season 10 game losing streak, would have been the NL West champs. Now they’ve shipped Adrian Gonzalez off to Boston for prospects which means their offense probably takes a step back this season. Their pitching will keep them in ball games in the tough NL West.

5. Arizona Diamondbacks: The highlight of the D-Backs’ season will be hosting the 2011 All Star game. The lowlights will be everything else. New GM Kevin Towers will rebuild Arizona into a winner, but not this season.

Playoffs Predictions

NLE Phillies v NLC Reds: A rematch of last season’s opening round repeats itself. Phillies advance.

NLW Rockies v NLWC Braves: Rockies hand the Braves a second straight playoff exit at the hands of a NL West team.

ALE Red Sox v ALWC Rangers: Texas misses Cliff Lee’s postseason brilliance as it loses to the Sox.

ALC Twins v ALW A’s: The Twins’ playoff misery continues as the young Oakland staff gets it done.

NLCS Phillies v Rockies: Funny how often history repeats itself, huh? The NL West champion Rockies send the Phillies home again in the NLCS as they march on to the World Series.

ALCS Red Sox v A’s: Oakland pulls the upset on the heavily-favored Bo-Sox as Moneyball GM Billy Beane assembles his franchise just enough offense to survive.

The World Series Trophy

World Series: Rockies v A’s: The Oakland dream ends in the Fall Classic as Rocktober finally brings home a championship to the Mile High City. Tulo claims World Series MVP.

Regular Season Awards

NL Cy Young: Josh Johnson (Fla)

AL Cy Young: Jon Lester (Bos)

NL MVP: Troy Tulowitzki (Col)

AL MVP: Josh Hamilton (Tex)

So there you have it folks, my predictions surely to be wrong. Take it to the bank and enjoy the season.

Michael Street’s Musings

I’ve been dying to write an entry here at EJSIC for a few weeks now, but learning how to file frivolous lawsuits law school is extremely time-consuming. Anyway, here are some things floating around in my subconscious.

1. MLB Instant Replay – I’ve been against instant replay for a while now. I defended the “human element” in the summer when Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga lost a perfect game thanks to umpire error (I now feel like an idiot for that). The playoffs have only shown us more problems, unfortunately. The Division Series in each league was dominated by questionable and costly umpire calls.

The LCS has not fared much better. Hell, the Yankees can basically determine when they are hit by a pitch and when they are not. It’s not going away, so it’s time for MLB to do what it does best: correct the problem after it has become a problem.

I still do not believe instant replay needs to be involved with every close play. Umpires have been making calls on bang-bang plays for nearly 150 years. There’s no need to review every single call.

How many umps does it take to screw up a call?

Instead, MLB should implement a rule stating: on every play which involves a significant scoring opportunity, instant replay is a viable option for determining the correct call.

I know what you’re thinking: “What the hell does ‘significant opportunity’ mean?” And that’s a great question. It means: a play in which a run may score (depending on the call), a run does score, or the potential to score runs is set up.

And all of those possibilities make it seem like a lot, but it would also be limited. There should never be an opportunity to replay a stolen base attempt (Buster Posey in the NLDS), a check swing or called / uncalled strike (Michael Young ALDS), or any play that is considered “routine” in the umpire’s job.

This rule leaves the ump’s with some discretion. If they need help, then they should be free to consult the technology.

If I haven’t converted you yet (which is a fair stance), I’ll be discussing this topic in a later (perhaps as long as a month from now) entry. It’s time to move on, though.

2. The NFL’s crackdown on head-hunting – It’s about time, honestly. It’s also important to point out that ESPN’s Mark Schlereth correctly called the NFL hypocritical this week on SportsCenter when he blasted the organization for promoting the violence of the game for years until now.

He’s right, but the NFL’s right, too. The NFL sold this violence for years. And now they want to stop the players from pursuing the most-violent hits. Their stance fits the very definition of a hypocrite. Yet, the NFL is 100% correct on the issue.

Get used to this image about 15 times a game now.

And the reason they’re correct is that they are being proactive, something my beloved baseball knows nothing about. It’s my opinion that a player will die on the field in an NFL game sometime in the future. The game is too violent, at times, for it to not happen.

But when that moment does occur, the NFL will be ready. They’re laying the groundwork for the arguments now. By fining and suspending players for vicious hits, they’ll be able to say one day, “Dear Congressional committee, we did everything in our power to limit the violence of the game. We fined players thousands of dollars for performing the hits we told them not to, and then suspended them without pay.”

That’s exactly what the NFL will be saying in front of a Congressional committee in X years. And, again, they’ll be correct. Then the Congress members and the NFL’s executives will all share a laugh about it at a dinner later that night. But whatever happens behind the scenes, the NFL will protect itself.

3. Marijuana soda, a liquid high – Dixie Elixirs (based in Colorado, the long last sister of the Confederacy) manufactures a soda from medical marijuana that gives the user a high while drinking. And better yet, it comes seven great flavors: lemonade, sweet tea, pink lemonade, strawberry, orange, grape, and root beer.

It doesn’t sound too appeasing to me, but if you want to try some, hit up their website.

4. The Wayne Rooney weirdness – English footballer Wayne Rooney has had a tough time as of late. He stunk it up in South Africa this past summer, he’s played horribly for Manchester United this season, his injured ankle has yet to fully heal, and the British media busted him for soliciting a prostitute (something he’s done before, but vowed to have stopped). Oh yeah, his wife’s prego with their child which factored into the media and public backlash.

How many prostitutes can 350,000 GBP a week buy?

And in the midst of all that, his club, Man U, is battling bankruptcy problems which prompted the 24 year old England star to publicly declare that he would be leaving the club at the expiration of his contract (end of 2012 season). Media members immediately speculated that he could be out of Manchester during the January transfer period with the possible destinations being cross-town rivals Manchester City, London dwellers Chelsea, or Spanish giants Real Madrid.

All of that speculation went to waste when Rooney, out of nowhere, signed a new 5 year deal with United Friday morning. So he’s good and recommitted to the club, according to club officials. With his new deal, I bet he can find a few higher end prostitutes to keep him satisfied while his wife deals with that whole pregnancy thing.

Some Random Baseball Thoughts about the Contenders

I know you all missed the weekly MLB Round-Up posts and they may return in the future. Until that time, here’s a little bone to chew on. I don’t intend to jump into some deep thoughts, but rather a quick look at each team with questions before the post-season.

American League

New York Yankees – The offense is dynamic, even without A-Rod, but do they have enough pitching outside of C.C. Sabathia to repeat?

Tampa Bay Rays – Great young nucleus, but rumor has it they may be looking to add Manny Ramirez through the waiver wire if he becomes available. Why mess up their team chemistry with a nutcase?

Boston Red Sox – Injuries, injuries, and a former idiot says no to a return. It’s a season of What-Ifs for Red Sox nation. What if they make a miracle run despite the injuries?

Minnesota Twins – Always a good ball team, the Twins find themselves at the top of the division once again. Can they beat they Yanks or Rays in a series?

Chicago White Sox – After falling to second place in the AL Central, the Chi Sox have some work to do since the Wild Card seems about unreachable. Can Ozzie Guillen rally the troops for a playoff push?

Texas Rangers – A runaway with the division crown, Texas can look forward to its first post-season appearance in a long time barring a New York Mets-esque collapse. The key in October though is will Cliff Lee be enough to beat the Yankees or Rays?

National League

Atlanta Braves – The Braves could still use some help on offense, but the veteran Derek Lee could provide that spark down the stretch. Can they hold off the Phillies for the division?

Philadelphia Phillies – One week, the Phils look like their World Series self. The next, they’re losing two straight games to the Astros at home. Will the Phillies pull it all together for a fourth straight division crown?

Cincinnati Reds – As long as they’re not playing the Cardinals, the Reds look like serious contenders. How will their young pitching hold up down the stretch and into a possible post-season birth?

St. Louis Cardinals – A team with Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter ought to be leading its division, right? Wrong. The Cards just can’t put everything together it seems.

San Diego Padres – The NL’s best team continues its great play. Does anybody believe in them outside the pitcher-friendly confines of Petco Park?

San Francisco Giants – Same story, different season: great pitching, but a lackluster offense. Can the Giants overcome their offensive shortcomings to grab the Wild Card or even the division?