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Baby I Like Texas!

By bullpenbrian - October 19, 2011 - 1:01 am 1 comment.

Two reasons I’m picking the Rangers to win the World Series.

First of all, I made the awful mistake of choosing hitting over pitching in last year’s Fall Classic. Not smart.

Any good baseball fan knows good pitching beats good hitting, especially in the postseason, and that was more than evident with San Fran’s dominate staff last October.

Secondly, I just can’t bring myself to pick St. Louis seeing as they’re the Cubs’ biggest rival. I know that’s not the most sound prognostication, but I’d rather not jeopardize any good karma choosing the Cards to win it all.

Wishful thinking aside, there’s no clear evidence suggesting either club has better starting pitching.

So why choose Texas?

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World Series Set, Almost

By bullpenbrian - October 13, 2011 - 2:30 pm Leave a comment.

Get ready for a St. Louis-Texas World Series.

I’m speaking ‘unofficially,’ of course, but that’s where the LCS’s are headed.

Texas has the all too commanding 3-1 lead over Detroit. And even with the Tigers throwing Justin Verlander in Game 5…at best they’ll need him to come back on three days rest for a potential Game 7 in Arlington.

The Rangers’ bullpen, more so than its potent lineup, has been the difference maker. The relief corps allowed just a single run through 15 innings of the first three games–and one run in Game 4. Simply, Lights. Out.

Meanwhile, back in St. Louis…the Cardinals and Chris Carpenter withstood Milwaukee’s best chance to gain the series winning Game 3, 4-3.

For all intents and purposes, Yovani Gallardo lost the game, and perhaps the series, in the first inning allowing the first five Cardinals to reach base. Four of those runners scored–and that was that.

Cards win game. Cards take 2-1 series lead.

In fact, the Cardinals bullpen retired the last 12 Milwaukee hitters in a row and allowed just a single base runner from the fifth inning on. Sound familiar, Detroit fans?

Now St. Louis feasts on Randy Wolf in Game 4, coming off a 7 ER performance in his NLDS start vs. Arizona. And for dessert, a tasty treat of Zach Greinke and his 9.00 postseason ERA in Game 5.

The Brewers have lost eight consecutive postseason games on the road. They don’t beat the Cardinals in Milwaukee, and now they have to take 3 of 4 to win the series.

Not impossible, but not likely either.

St. Louis vs. Texas. Who knew?

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Freak Show In San Francisco

By bullpenbrian - November 2, 2010 - 11:30 am 2 comments.

This wasn’t the World Series I was looking for six days ago. The two teams I  wanted were there, but the five-game series was largely dominated by San Fran.

Other than the Giants’ brilliant starting pitching, neither side played well. There was a lack of drama and the big-ticket pitching match-ups never fully materialized. Just wasn’t a very memorable Fall Classic, unfortunately.

I still believe having two teams that were not expected to be league champions is good for baseball, despite the low TV ratings.  A competitive six or seven game series would have been better, of course, better  for the fans, and yes, better for television. But for me, this series was still better than watching New York vs. Philly.

Lots of praise was heaped on Cliff Lee, and rightfully so, but Tim Lincecum  reminded us he’s an ace, too. Lee loss both his starts. ‘The Freak’ won both of his. I think most fans, including myself, thought Lee would nab at  least one victory. Lincecum’s performances, however, was the deciding factor in the series.

Tim Kirkjian said it best about the Giants: “They’re not always pretty to watch, but they win.” Curt Schilling said on ESPN that he believes “the best team always wins.” For certain, the Giants had the better pitching, and better pitching usually wins.

Looking back, I think the Giants would have toppled either New York or Tampa Bay. The Yankees pitching is on par with Texas, and the Rays’ lineup is sub-par to Texas–not that such speculation really matters.

You could see Edgar Renteria’s three-run homer coming from a mile away. Lee was looking tired having allowed back-to-back singles to Ross and Uribe, which marked the first time a Giant reached second base all game.

When Lee missed badly on his first two pitches to Renteria, you knew a strike was coming next. Renteria didn’t miss it, clubbed the winning home run and pocketed the MVP Award. I understand Lee’s mentality to go-after hitters, but the decision not to pitch around Edgar will always be questioned.

Here’s to wishing Lee doesn’t sign with the damn Yankees this offseason. He’s a good fit for the Rangers, or any team for that matter, but anywhere other New York would suite me fine. St. Louis, however, would be tough to swallow!

I’m very interested to see were the Giants turn. Do they keep their castoffs that just won the title or start moving again in a younger direction?

And after watching San Fran’s starting pitching end 56 years of frustration, remind me again why the Cubs dealt Ted Lilly?

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DVR Reveals Lee’s Woes

By bullpenbrian - October 28, 2010 - 12:01 am Leave a comment.

My Wednesday night package for the Blackhawks had me scoreboard watching Game 1 from the 300-level seats at the United Center. Hawks vs. L.A. isn’t quite Lincecum vs. Lee, but that’s the beauty of a DVR.

Couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw SF leading 8-2 in the fifth. The Giants are far from an offensive juggernaut, and this was against Cliff Lee?

The DVR, however, revealed two things we haven’t seen from Lee this postseason. One, he regularly worked deep in the count. Two, he left the ball up in the zone.

The Giants’ patience paid off by forcing Lee to throw more than 100-pitches through 4.2 innings. This was key because not all their hits were hard, but had just enough wood to knock him out early.

The long layoff in between starts didn’t appear to be in Lee’s favor, either. Which was also the case with Roy Halladay after his no-hitter.

But I’d say the chances of Lee repeating his performance from Wednesday night are slim. He’ll be back to his regular routine, and he’s simply too good not to rebound.

Winning Game 1 is always a huge victory. (Game 1 winners have won the series 61-percent of the time). But it goes without saying what kind of confidence builder this is for San Fran–defeating a once unbeatable force in Lee.

The pressure, obviously, is squarely on Texas for Game 2. The offense was there having scored seven runs, but it’s all about the pitching. No question the biggest hurdle will be recovering from Lee’s hangover.

PS – Blackhawks won 3-1!

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Adding Wild Cards Solves Nothing

By bullpenbrian - October 27, 2010 - 1:00 pm 4 comments.

Expanding the playoffs is no way to solve MLB’s problems. Fixing a competitive imbalance league-wide is.

Baseball is best served shortening its regular season to 150 games, starting sooner, ending earlier and getting out of the NFL’s way.

If anything needs expanding it’s the opening divisional round. Either make it a seven-game series, or grant home field advantage to the higher seed throughout the entire first round.

Presently, there’s little advantage to gunning for the division title if a team is already in position to make the playoffs. Playing all five games at home would change that.

Adding two more wild cards only cheapens the regular season. The problem isn’t too few teams in postseason play, but that they’re not enough teams that can actually compete for October.

Creating a salary cap of some sort has a better chance of improving the game in all markets, where as adding more Wild Cards improves the chance of more big markets playing in the postseason.

That’s good for television, of course, but bad for fans–a formula baseball’s had down for a long time.

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Rangers Giants Picture Perfect

By bullpenbrian - October 25, 2010 - 12:01 am Leave a comment.

SI.com

Watching the Rangers win the ALCS was beautiful.
Literally, the weather, the crowd shots, the fireworks–picture perfect.

It’s been a while since a baseball game had me jumping off the couch in celebration. But Vlady’s two-out two-run double in the fifth had me leaping for joy, as did Nelson Cruz’s monstrous two-run homer that landed in the deepest part of the ballpark!

For me personally, it goes a step further. I say the Ranger’s monumental victory saves the 2010 season. Witnessing New York win another World Series with a $200-million payroll couldn’t be any more anti-climatic.

Meanwhile, whoever thought Philadelphia’s three-headed monster of Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt would fall short against San Fran?

Lots of attention is being given to the band of misfits headlined by Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell, and Cody Ross. And without question, it’s well deserved. But Lincecum, Cain and Sanchez isn’t a bad threesome, either. Downing H2O in six games was no fluke.

This matchup makes for a terrific World Series. There are plenty of good storylines, good pitching and good defense, and I’m happy no matter who wins.

If I must choose a winner, however, I like Texas. Cliff Lee is likely to get two starts and the Rangers lineup is dominate compared to a Giants offense that’s scored four or more runs in just two of its 10 postseason games.

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Chicago Cubs History 1901

By bullpenbrian - January 25, 2010 - 1:15 am Leave a comment.

With a month left before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training I’m taking a look back at Cubs yesteryear.

This first post begins in 1901, the first season of the American League as we know it today, and a time in which the Cubs were still two years away from changing its nickname from Orphans to Cubs.

Aside from a slew of fancy names: Cupid, Topsy, Cozy, Jock, Germany, Rube and Mal, the Cubs weren’t much for winning or large crowds at the West Side Park — they finished fifth in the league in attendance (205,071), slightly better than its (53-86-1) sixth place finish in the eight-team National League.

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Missed Signs

By bullpenbrian - October 30, 2008 - 12:06 am Leave a comment.

Any idea what player led the National League in HRs and RBIs this season but failed to make the NL’s All Star roster???

Hard to believe such a player would slip through the cracks isn’t it. (I’m blaming hanging chads)

In fact, it’s been 60 years since such a slugger was left off the All Star roster, that man being the Reds’ Hank Sauer.

But, despite using this trivia as another example of why MLB’s current system for determining home field advantage for the World Series is a joke, I’d rather focus on abandoned NL All Star Ryan Howard and his world champion Philadelphia Phillies.

Thinking back on this post season it occurred to me that the entire Phillies team was under appreciated this year the same way Howard was at the All Star break.

Honestly, between naming the Cubs World Series champs in September and drooling over Manny’s arrival in L.A. when was there time to think about the Phils as the best club the NL had to offer?

Moreover, baseball fans, including myself, seemed to concentrate more on Brett Myers demotion to Triple-A than a blossoming Cole Hamels, paid more attention to J-Roll’s early season plate struggles than his NL leading .988 fielding percentage, focused more on Brad Lidge’s past than his phenomenal 41-for-41 save percentage and more on Charlie Manuel’s southern twang than his (.543) career winning percentage.

From a personal standpoint, it’s disappointing that I failed to pick up on just how good the Phils bullpen was this regular season.

Seriously, it’s one thing to overlook Howard’s league leading HRs and RBIs in late June, but another not to catch a Philly pen that finished the season ranked 1st in ERA and winning percentage (.589), 2nd in Wins (33) and Saves (47) and allowed the 3rd fewest home runs in the NL – 2nd fewest in the majors (Toronto). That’s a big “my-bad” on my part.

Of course, now that the Phillies have been crowned champions it much easier to see why they reached the summit.

As for Howard being left off the NL’s roster, that’s another story.

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Win for the Commish?

By bullpenbrian - October 29, 2008 - 11:45 pm Leave a comment.

Bud Selig’s decision to suspend Game 5 of the World Series worked out brilliantly.

The final three innings of play – resuming 46 hours after the game began – matched the excitement baseball fans yearn to see during the post season.

And even better, most fans actually had the opportunity to see the game’s final pitch on live television, an event that’s rare for a typical World Series game.

Of course, if I’m the commish (of the more taste league?) I would’ve called Game 5 before the fifth inning and rescheduled the contest in its entirety for this evening.

But, it appears Selig’s decision to suspend the game was the right choice, and if nothing else ol’ Bud lucked out with his call to resume Game 5 from the sixth inning on.

As a result of the suspension, baseball fans were treated to a timely and dramatic finish to a World Series game, imagine that…a world series game enjoyed by sons & daughters with mom & dad, and all before 1am too!

Unfortunately, Selig and company find such a scenario bad for baseball.

Apparently, television rating are best for baseball when the East coast is sleeping, at least, that’s what ad revenue dollars tell them.

It’s sickening really, baseball basically implements video replay into the game overnight, but finishing post season games before mid-night and before Thanksgiving is out of the question?

I don’t but it.

Yes, the television ad revenue is crucial for baseball, but we’re the ones moving the turnstiles, we’re the ones purchasing season tickets and we’re the ones who deserve a chance to enjoy the World Series the night of and not the morning after.

Bud and the club owners says it’s important for baseball to appeal to America’s youth, but they sure don’t act like it.

Chances are this situation stay status quo until baseball’s fans put a stop to setting record attendance during the regular season.

Then perhaps, baseball will be forced to move its post season games into a more reasonable time slot, one where America’s youth and the rest of us might actually find it before bed time.

Geez, it sure works well for the NFL.


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Mad Men

By bullpenbrian - October 26, 2008 - 1:05 am Leave a comment.

There’s no better drama on television than AMC’s Mad Men.

It’s right on par with the Spranos, perhaps even better.

And Mad Men was the perfect escape to a rather boring Game 4 of the World Series, a 10-2 drubbing by the Phillies.

So, what’s the chance Tampa Bay rallies for a Game 6 with Cole Hamels – (4-0) 1.55 post season ERA – on the mound for the Phils tomorrow?

Let’s just say not likely.

And so, this isn’t exactly the series I was pulling for in this Fall Classic.

Sure, there has been some drama, last night’s walkoff dribbler, Utley and Howard’s back-to-back jacks, Joe Blanton’s bomb and an occasional flare from the Rays too, but this series is now largely in favor of Philadelphia.

The Phillies are already talking about its victory parade through downtown Philly, their confidence sky high with a 3-1 series lead.

And why not, Pena and Longoria are still hitless for Tampa Bay, the Rays are playing spotty defense and the once sleeping giant Ryan Howard is wide awake at the plate.

Oh, and did I mention Cole Hamels is throwing tomorrow?

Sorry Tampa Bay, you’ve been a wonderful Cinderella, but the shoe doesn’t fit.


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