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

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?

Sometimes it just pays to be a homer

I try to maintain some semblance of fair and balance reporting, a la Fox News, but last night’s All Star game was the perfect example of when “Keeping It Real (Homerish)” would have been perfect.

I hate the Designated Hitter rule in baseball. Likewise, I hate the American League. I hate the New York Yankees, therefore I hate the American League.

I once hated George Steinbrenner (RIP), but I still hate the American League. A-Rod is a fraud and he’s a career AL player. Thus, the AL is a fraudulent league.

The years between 1996 and 2010 were painful for this baseball aficionado. Thankfully, the National League tired of its red-head step-brother claiming the glory and put those son of a guns back in their place as the inferior league.

Unfortunately, I did not have the bollocks to predict a NL victory yesterday. I do feel bad about it. I had faith we could win, but the game was in Anaheim (an AL park) and the NL relief pitchers usually choke the game away.

Sometimes it just pays to be a homer. Seriously, when did logic ever win any argument? From now on, I’ll go with my heart no matter what my brain says. As always, go National League!

MLB Round-Up All-Star Game Edition

The All-Star break is upon the baseball world which means it is time for first-half awards: MVPs, Cy Youngs, and a few other goodies from the first 81 (plus seven) games.

MVP

American League – Miguel Cabrera (Detroit). The Tiger first baseman is tied for the league lead with a .346 batting average, leads the league with 77 RBIs, and has 22 home runs (two off the major league lead). That makes him a legitimate triple crown candidate. And it’s not hard to imagine where the Tigers would be without him (i.e. not a half game behind the first place White Sox).

Also up for consideration – Justin Morneau (Minnesota), Josh Hamilton (Texas), Kevin Youkilis (Boston), Vlad Guerrero (Texas), and Paul Konerko (Chicago)

My preseason prediction – Mark Teixeira (New York). .254/.360/.465 17 homers, 60 RBIs

National League – Joey Votto (Cincinnati). I promise not to go all Charlie Manuel on the half season awards and snub a deserving player, so Reds first baseman Joey Votto wins the award. He leads the NL with 22 homers, has an OPS over 1 (1.012 to be exact), and is the definition of “clutch.” He bats .379 from the 7th inning and on, and 16 of his home runs have had an altering impact on the game (i.e. broke a tie, put the Reds within a run, or tied the game).

Also up for consideration – Albert Pujols (St. Louis), David Wright (New York), Adrian Gonzalez (San Diego), Martin Prado (Atlanta), Andre Either (Los Angeles), Scott Rolen (Cincinnati).

My preseason prediction – Troy Tulowitzki (Colorado). .306/.375/.502/.877 9 homers, 34 RBIs (62 games played). The Rockies short stop is currently out with an injury, but with their late surge, Tulowitzki could be poised to return from injury and lead Colorado to the playoffs again.

Cy Young

American League – David Price (Tampa Bay). The Rays success this season can be attributed to both great pitching and great hitting. Price has been in the middle of the pitching all season. His 12 wins and 2.42 ERA are tops in the AL. He has ascended to the ace role the Rays envisioned when they drafted him.

Also up for consideration – Cliff Lee (Seattle/Texas), Jon Lester (Boston), Jered Weaver (Los Angeles).

My preseason prediction – Felix Hernandez (Seattle). 7-5, 2.88 ERA, 137.2 innings pitched. The one thing holding King Felix back from this award is the last place team he pitches on.

National League – Josh Johnson (Florida). No-hitters aside, Josh Johnson has been the most consistent pitchers in the Senior Circuit this season. Ubaldo Jimenez wowed us early, but he’s fallen off a bit. Johnson is 9-3 (and has left 3 different games with a lead that the bullpen blew). In his three losses, Johnson left the game trailing 1-0, 2-1, and 2-1. His 1.70 ERA is the best in baseball.

Also up for consideration – Ubaldo Jimenez (Colorado), Adam Wainwright (St. Louis), Tim Hudson (Atlanta), Roy Halladay (Philadelphia), and Matt Latos (San Diego).

My preseason prediction – Josh Johnson (score 1 for me).

Biggest surprise

American League – Toronto Blue Jays. Roy Halladay and A.J. Burnett gone in the last two years, yet Toronto finds itself at 44-45. Sure, they’re not catching the three beast of the East in the second half, but the rebuilding era of the birds of the north may not be as long as previously envisioned.

National League – San Diego Padres. Who saw this? They have the best pitching staff in baseball after trading perennial Cy Young candidate Jake Peavy and enough offense behind the talented Adrian Gonzalez to lead one of the tightest divisions in baseball. Great story in San Diego to date.

Biggest disappointment

American League – AL West. Seattle (my preseason pick, -1 for me), is one of the worst teams in baseball, Oakland has no offense to go along with their good pitching, the Angels have fallen off, and Texas limped into the All-Star break after floundering a chance to blow out the rest of the division. Maybe the break will give them a chance to recuperate.

National League – Chicago Cubs. I didn’t pick them or expect them to win anything this season, but they’ve been absolutely horrid at times. Carlos Zambrano is no longer the pitcher he once was, Alfonso Soriano doesn’t do the one thing that got him paid (hit the ball), Aramis Ramirez has been a disappointment, and Mount Lou could explode at any moment. With a lot of aging contracts still on the books, the Cubs will find it difficult to rebuild in the off-season.

Prediction for tonight’s home run derby – Chris Young of the Arizona Diamondbacks brings home the trophy.

MLB Round-Up 6/14 edition

The weekly MLB Round-Up post is back amidst World Cup phenomenon. In case you forgot, we will detail a team of the week, position player of the week, and pitcher of the week in each league. Let’s begin.

Team of the Week

American League – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Los Angeles’ other team swept the Dodgers over the weekend Interleague series and, in the process, have reached a season-high 6 games over .500. The Angels have also closed their AL West deficit to a .5 game. The Angels seem to lose key players and replace them with less than high profile free agents, yet they always start playing great baseball around the end of May. Watch our for them.

National League – New York Mets. Has there been a more up-and-down team in the majors this season? One week, the Mets look like serious division and pennant contenders only to look like a team competing for a high draft pick the next? A patchwork rotation has allowed the Mets to close Atlanta’s division lead to 1.5 games.

Position Player of the Week

American League – Johnny Damon (Detroit). The Tigers off-season acquisition played in 6 games in the past week posting a .476 batting average. Damon was the catalyst for a Tigers offense that helped them sweep the Pirates over the weekend.

National League – Brandon Phillips (Cincinnati). The Reds are just 5-5 in their last 10 games, but Brandon Phillips cannot be blamed for the mediocrity. He batted .538 and slugged .808. Phillips added 3 RBIs and 6 runs scored.

Pitcher of the Week

American League – Colby Lewis (Texas). Despite a shrinking division lead, Lewis kept his Rangers in first place with 2 wins in the past 7 days. His 1.80 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 15 innings was as impressive as anyone in the same time span.

National League – Matt Cain (San Francisco). When a hugely-hyped phenom gets 2 wins in his first 2 starts in the majors while giving up 3 runs, they usually get Pitcher of the Week honors. Unfortunately for Stephen Strasburg, Matt Cain was just better. Cain posted a 0.56 ERA in 16 innings helping the Giants gain ground on the first place Padres.

Series of the Week – Tampa Bay Rays vs Atlanta Braves. It doesn’t get any better than a 3 game, mid-week series between 2 first place teams. The Rays take a 22-8 road record to Turner Field where the Braves 19-6, which is the fewest losses at home by any team in the majors. Something has to give in Hotlanta.

MLB Two Month Edition – National League

Yesterday we looked at the American League and how teams have fared after roughly 50 games (or two months). And if you remember, the key to this exercise was summing up those seasons to date in one sentence or less. Today, we look at the Senior Circuit.

Braves rookie Jason Heyward

East

1. Atlanta (33-25) – The woes of a slow start have been erased by a fantastic month of May with rookie phenom Jason Heyward and veteran Troy Glaus leading the offense.

2. Philadelphia (30-26) – When it looked as if Philly was about to run away with the division, their offense sputtered and it has yet to return fully.

3. New York (30-27) – A make-shift pitching staff has been enough to keep the Mets afloat while they still struggle to score runs in the massive Citi Field.

4. Florida (28-30) – A disappointing record to date shows how manager Fredi Gonzalez’s team has been mediocre.

5. Washington (27-31) – Stephen Strasburg makes his debut tonight for a Nationals team that has to feel a bit more positive than in seasons past thanks to a near-.500 record.

Scott Rolen of the Reds

Central

1. Cincinnati (33-25) – Move over Strasburg, Mike Leake may be the best rookie pitcher and he’s been there all season with a resurgent Scott Rolen.

1. St. Louis (33-25) – Wainwright and Carpenter have been the anchor of a club that has yet to reach its full capabilities.

3. Chicago (26-31) – If Milton Bradley were still around when the eventual eruption of Mt. Lou occurs sometime before the All-Star break, then the fans at Wrigley would be treated to a real show.

4. Milwaukee (23-34) – Yovani Gallardo and the Brewers have proven they can beat teams worse than they are, but when it comes to the true competition, they have failed numerous times.

5. Pittsburgh (23-34) – They’re not in last place which is a step in the right direction, and prospect Pedro Alvarez should be called up sometime soon.

6. Houston (22-36) – Owner Drayton McLane doesn’t like to admit to “rebuilding mode,” but what else can the Astros do with a bunch of aging veterans and an ace pitcher that wants out?

San Diego superstar Adrian Gonzalez

West

1. San Diego (34-23) – The NL’s best team has still not made believer’s out of some despite splitting a four game series in Philadelphia this past weekend.

2. Los Angeles (34-24) – A slow start has been erased with their play in May under the pitching of Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley, and the hitting of MVP-candidate Andre Ethier.

3. San Francisco (31-25) – Offensive woes continue for a team stacked with quality pitching.

4. Colorado (30-27) – Ubaldo Jimenez has been the bright spot in a so-so season to date.

5. Arizona (23-35) – They can hit, but their bullpen has been horrendous in blowing games for their starting pitching.

Interleague Record UPDATE

All of the day games are completed with only the ESPN Sunday night game remaining (Yankees at Mets). As mentioned in an earlier post, the two leagues entered Sunday tied with 14 wins each on Friday and Saturday.

So, let’s take a look at how the action has unfolded today and where that leaves the interleague series with one game to go.

Cleveland 4, Cincinnati 3
Florida 13, Chicago 0
Washington 4, Baltimore 3
Boston 8, Philadelphia 3
Chicago 5, Texas 4
Tampa Bay 10, Houston 6
Colorado 11, Kansas City 7
St. Louis 6, Los Angeles 5
Milwaukee 4, Minnesota 3
Detroit 6, Los Angeles 2
Oakland 3, San Francisco 0
Toronto 12, Arizona 4
San Diego 8, Seattle 1

These results leave the National League with 7 wins for today and a total of 21. The American League recorded 6 victories for a 3-day total of 20. Tonight’s game at Citi Field can give the Senior Circuit a 2-game advantage or can put the two leagues in a tie after one round of Interleague play.

In case you missed the post earlier about Sunday’s match-ups (linked above), the Yankees and Mets will each be sending their ace to the mound. C.C. Sabathia is pitching for the Yanks while Johan Santana toes the rubber for the Metropolitans.

UPDATE

NL rules, AL drools. Mets defeat Yankees 6-4 giving the National League a 22-20 lead thus far into the season.

Interleague Sunday Showdown

This weekend marks the first round of interleague games in Major League Baseball. After two days of action, the two leagues are tied with 14 wins a piece. Sunday will be the deciding day in which league takes an early advantage in bragging rights.

For the past decade or so, the American League has dominated interleague along with the All-Star game. So let’s take a look at the match-ups for Sunday and how each series has gone down so far.

Cincinnati Reds vs Cleveland Indians

Friday: CIN 7, CLE 4 (NL 1-0)
Saturday: CIN 6, CLE 4 (NL 2-0)
Sunday: Bailey (CIN, 1-2 5.21 ERA) vs Huff (CLE, 1-6 5.36 ERA)

Chicago Cubs vs Texas Rangers

Friday: TEX 2, CHI 1 (AL 1-0)
Saturday: CHI 5, TEX 4 (1-1)
Sunday: Silva (CHI, 5-0 3.35 ERA) vs Wilson (TEX, 3-1 2.55 ERA)

Colorado Rockies vs Kansas City Royals

Friday: KC 9, COL 2 (AL 1-0)
Saturday: COL 3, KC 0 (1-1)
Sunday: Cook (COL, 1-3 5.13 ERA) vs Greinke (KC, 1-4 2.72 ERA)

Florida Marlins vs Chicago White Sox

Friday: CWS 8, FLA 0 (AL 1-0)
Saturday: CWS 4, FLA 1 (AL 2-0)
Sunday: Johnson (FLA, 4-1 2.68 ERA) vs Garcia (CWS, 3-2 4.50 ERA)

Milwaukee Brewers vs Minnesota Twins

Friday: MIN 15, MIL 3 (AL 1-0)
Saturday: MIN 8, MIL 7 (AL 2-0)
Sunday: Estrada (MIL, 0-0 6.23 ERA) vs Pavano (MIN, 4-4 4.11 ERA)

San Francisco Giants vs Oakland Athletics

Friday: OAK 6, SF 1 (AL 1-0)
Saturday: OAK 1, SF 0 (AL 2-0)
Sunday: Sanchez (SF, 2-3 3.06 ERA) vs Sheets (OAK, 2-3 5.66 ERA)

San Diego Padres vs Seattle Mariners

Friday: SEA 15, SD 8 (AL 1-0)
Saturday: SD 2, SEA 1 (1-1)
Sunday: Latos (SD, 3-3 3.28 ERA) vs Hernandez (SEA, 2-3 3.95 ERA)

Baltimore Orioles vs Washington Nationals

Friday: BAL 5, WSH 3 (AL 1-0)
Saturday: WSH 7, BAL 6 (1-1)
Sunday: Millwood (BAL, 0-4 3.65 ERA) vs Lannan (WSH, 1-2 6.02 ERA)

Boston Red Sox vs Philadelphia Phillies

Friday: PHI 5, BOS 1 (NL 1-0)
Saturday: BOS 5, PHI 0 (1-1)
Sunday: Wakefield (BOS, 0-2 5.31 ERA) vs Halladay (PHI, 6-2 1.64 ERA)

New York Yankees vs New York Mets

Friday: NYY 2, NYM 1 (AL 1-0)
Saturday: NYM 5, NYY 3 (1-1)
Sunday: Sabathia (NYY, 4-2 3.43 ERA) vs Santana (NYM, 3-2 3.72 ERA)

Tampa Bay Rays vs Houston Astros

Friday: HOU 2, TB 1 (NL 1-0)
Saturday: TB 4, HOU 2 (1-1)
Sunday: Price (TB, 6-1 1.81 ERA) vs Norris (HOU, 2-5 6.75 ERA)

Los Angeles Angeles of Anaheim vs St. Louis Cardinals

Friday: STL 9, LAA 5 (NL 1-0)
Saturday: LAA 10, STL 7 (1-1)
Sunday: Weaver (LAA, 4-2 3.40 ERA) vs Carpenter (STL, 5-1 2.80 ERA)

Toronto Blue Jays vs Arizona Diamondbacks

Friday: ARI 8, TOR 6 (NL 1-0)
Saturday: ARI 8, TOR 5 (NL 2-0)
Sunday: Marcum (TOR, 3-1 2.61 ERA) vs Buckner (ARI, 0-1 3.60 ERA)

Detroit Tigers vs Los Angeles Dodgers

Friday: LAD 4, DET 1 (NL 1-0)
Saturday: LAD 6, DET 4 (NL 2-0)
Sunday: Procello (DET, 3-4 5.93 ERA) vs Kuroda (LAD, 5-1 2.87 ERA)