World Series Game One: Kluber, Indians Dominate in 6-0 victory

[Indians 6, Cubs 0]

I’m taking a lot of flack for just feeling like the Cleveland Indians are meeting much resistance in this postseason. It’s no fault of their own, but it just seems like the Tribe hasn’t had a moment where they’re needing to press or play from behind or any high-leverage spots at all. Their model works extremely well and almost takes the mystery out of it – the mystery and drama that you live for this time of year if you’re not solely a fan of either team.

And that’s what I want to see. I want to see the Indians get down two games to one and then see how they respond. I want to see guys in the bullpen need to get big outs other than Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. I want to see how the Indians hitters do when they’re in a 4-0 hole in a game they have to have. We haven’t seen any of that yet.

Last night it was the same thing I feel like we’ve seen eight times previous this October: junk run, junk run, followed by home run by off-brand player; solid pitching performance and oh hey look the bullpen has the ball and the game is over. Never one real moment of suspense in last night’s 6-0 win.

It was three hours and 37 minutes of domination, and domination that feels quite gimmicky. I realize I’m just not going to know what to think if this is one of those goofy years where the little Cleveland Indians go and win the whole thing without any resistance. And as an Ohioan if that makes me a terrible person, so be it. There are better teams that have not run through the playoff field like this and I don’t want to see the Indians be the first, so there I said it.

But hey, lets look at the positives. At least you can get into tonight’s game for less than $500 on the street. That’s reasonable, right? Not really, but it brings a little less bitterness towards Cleveland; a city that has no business commanding $900 standing room only ticket prices. I’ve been to Cleveland. It’s a dump. How are there that many people with that much money? Quit spending your savings on World Series tickets.

Of note:

  • Francisco Lindor had three hits, including a two-out single in the first; he stole second base, and then scored on Jose Ramirez’s infield single to make it 1-0.  He’s hitting .371 in the postseason. Super-star.
  • Jose Ramirez also had three hits. He’s up to .290 in the postseason. Another guy who isn’t a superstar but a very good player. I almost classify him as a poor man’s Lindor.
  • Roberto Perez homered off Jon Lester – the hardest ball that’s been hit off Lester all season long (112 MPH on a cool night), and then homered again in the bottom of the eighth for the dagger. The more I say Perez is not a good baseball player, the more he’s going to continue to do stuff like this.
  • Corey Kluber set a big league record by striking out eight of his first nine outs in the World Series opener. He’s right on the echelon of being the horse I said he would need to be for the Indians to have any type of chance this postseason. He was absolutely dominating and one hitter in, the way he set down Dexter Fowler; I knew that the Cubs were in a lot of trouble.
  • Terry Francona is 9-0 in the World Series now in his career.

So tonight’s game gets underway in about three hours. It’s been moved up an hour due to rain in the forecast. I think this is the biggest game of the series, without a doubt. If the Cubs win this, I think they can roll. If the Indians win this, all bets are off; and they may be already, but if the Indians win it the series has to at least come back to Cleveland barring a sweep in Chicago.

Hopefully my kid goes to bed on time – she likes to stay up all of the sudden and watch baseball because it’s better than the alternative. And hopefully by the time she’s asleep the Cubs bats are quite the opposite.

Not a World Series Preview Post: The 2016 World Series


2016 World Series: Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians

The World Series begins in my home state tonight, about two hours and 15 minutes from my doorstep. It’s always been a bucket-list item for me to be at a World Series game. Due to the insanity of ticket prices, I’ll be covering these games like the rest of America; from my couch.

You could seriously get into a Super Bowl for cheaper. Like, much cheaper. And then of course I have friends who got a ticket for $100. I have friends who have tickets to games 1, 2, 6 and 7. I have friends who could get tickets to Progressive Field, but they’re holding out because they only want to go to Wrigley. I have friends who have passed up tickets. All of these people can kiss my ass to be honest. You are not deserving!

Down to the series itself. The Cubbies open as a -185 to -200ish favorite with the Indians checking in around +160 depending on where you ask. This seems about right. I want to remind all reading this that the Indians went into the NLDS against Boston with the Red Sox -185 favorites and they were swept. The Blue Jays were -140 favorites against the Tribe; and they were made short work of in just five games.

If this truly isn’t the hardest bad guy who sits at the end of the video game, if this isn’t Super-Shredder; if this isn’t the greatest enemy who shall ever be faced by the 2016 Cleveland Indians and they don’t go down right here, I truly know jack shit about the sport.

The Indians are going to need some serious smoke and mirrors and chokes and fears by their opponent for the third straight series to win this. The Chicago rotation is more solidified than not only that of the Indians, but then that of Boston. Not that I think it really matters, but the Chicago lineup gets a shot in the arm with the return of Kyle Schwarber tonight as the Designated Hitter.

Cleveland is rolling out Corey Kluber, stink-handed Trevor Bauer, some Merritt kid, some Salazar, they talk up Josh Tomlin in game three like that’s a truly dependable option at Wrigley Field; I mean this is ridiculous. It really is. That’s just not a World Series rotation, as great of a story as Curse vs. Cursed is here in late October.

The Cubs meanwhile have four guys you know well. Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, and John Lackey. It’s not close. If both these teams play their game, it’s not close. And the Indians will be lucky to fight this back to Cleveland for a second trip so my one buddy can attend games six and seven after he got to go to one and two. What a lucky prick!

I don’t need to break it down with stats and analysis. The Indians hit like .140 or something putrid in the ALCS and still won in five games. anything can happen here, but I don’t see it. I’m betting the farm on the Chicago Cubs. I’ll be back with reactions on each game, after it happens. Or whenever I get around to it.

And any expert who is really picking the Indians here is just doing it to be cute, and you know it.

World Series Prediction: Chicago Cubs over Cleveland Indians in Five Games. 

The Detroit Tigers are listening to offers on everyone


It didn’t take long for the Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila to declare that he would listen to offers on anyone on the roster if the deal is right.


  • I like the Tigers. I like the Tigers nucleus as it is. They hung in there until the final day of the season, so they’re a team while not perfect; they’re definitely competitive and at worst probably figure to be a little longer if left alone.
  • Avila said the club would not offer JD Martinez a long-term contract extension, and his current deal in Motown expires after the 2017 season.
  • Justin Verlander and (gasp) Miguel Cabrera are obviously among those who can be sniffed around by the sharks. It’s hard to imagine either of these guys in another uniform, especially Cabrera who is a franchise-defining talent and an inner circle Hall of Famer. He deserves the farewell tour in Detroit that Ortiz just got in Boston. The good thing for those that want to see these two stay put is that they’re 10/5 guys, so they could veto a trade to any team.
  • In a thin free-agent market, guys like Justin Upton, Ian Kinsler, and Victor Martinez could be huge commodities. This is where I would think a slight tweak; if it happens, could be a good thing for the Tigers. If one of those types can yield a high-leverage couple of arms and a B-level prospect, the Tigers probably do it.
  • Buster Olney says the Tigers will make an effort to dump Justin Upton’s salary this offseason. Upton is signed to a massive six-year, $132.75 MM contract.
  • Indications are that the Tigers will not make this a full firesale.

And that’s the basics of what is going on with the Tigers right now. They probably look at their division mates the Cleveland Indians and that payroll and have a little envy and get some ideas about how to start building at the base of their organization again.

Best guess is one or two of these guys go but not Miguel Cabrera. That would just be sacrilegious in so many ways in the game of baseball.  Detroit definitely will be one of the most interesting organizations in the game as we approach the Winter Meetings and trade season.

Carlos Correa’s 2016 Season


This is the exit interview post for one of our favorite players in the big leagues, and one of our most important fantasy keepers on one of our most important fantasy teams.

Carlos Correa burst on the scene with a 2015 that saw him .279/.345/.512 with 22 home runs, 68 RBI and 14 steals in just 99 games. His line drive % was 22.4, his fWAR 3.4; the sky seemed the limit and many were predicting him to win the American League MVP award in 2016 for an Astros team that would roll to the World Series.

And then reality happened – the reality that baseball is a hard game and the Astros are probably just a year or so too young – and Correa showed that he was still pretty dang good at baseball.

His 2016 featured a slash line of .274/.361/.451 in 153 games. He homered 20 times and knocked in 96 while stealing 13 bags. His fWAR rose to 4.9 while his strikeout percentage also took an upward turn from 18.1% to 21.1%. His line drive rate was 22.4% again on the nose.

Advanced batting metrics show that he had some trouble with the curveball but improved on the fastball. It’s speculated that he played a good part of the season banged up, limping to the finish line with a balky shoulder.

Correa will not be 23 until next September, so the sky is still absolutely the limit. Correa is still a five category stud, and the Astros still play at Minute Maid which is friendly to hitters. They figure to have a nice lineup over the next several seasons, and they’ll undoubtedly only get better with some luck in the health department and another winter of seasoning across a lot of their young roster.

We said on our podcast before the 2016 season started that Correa was the one guy we couldn’t wait to watch. As winter approaches, and we’re down to two teams left in the postseason; he’s probably the number one guy we can’t wait to see take the field in April of 2017.

Chicago Cubs reach the first World Series in what seems like ever


[Box Score]
[Bleed Cubbie Blue] [Chicago Now] [Bleacher Nation] [Obstructed View]

October 22nd, 2016 was the fateful date in history that the Chicago Cubs were meant to take the National League pennant. If Cubs fans had known how this chapter in the story went all along – maybe their lives would have been a little more at ease.

The Cubs took it to Clayton Kershaw early and often. The game was somewhat uneventful until ‘Go Cubs Go’ played over the loudspeakers and the final out was recorded, partially due to the fact that it was never close and also because Kyle Hendricks was on.

Throwing what he said was his best performance of the year, Hendricks gave up a lead off single to Andrew Toles and then not another until the last batter he faced in the eighth inning.

Anthony Rizzo homered to make it 5-0. When that ball left the park, you really knew it was over. People preceded to cry in the stands. The sold out crowd sang the Cubbies victory song. Harry Caray was correct back in 1991 when he said that someday the Cubs would be in the World Series.

This blog has seen underachieving Cubs teams, Cubs teams that were talented but simply not ready, Cubs teams that lost 100 games and now finally a Cubs team that is the finest team in baseball.

On the way out, there is simply no knocking the Los Angeles Dodgers of 2016. They were a gritty, gutty team that was a lot of fun to watch. They were perhaps the second best team in all of baseball this season. They took this Cubs team to six games and deserve a ton of credit. You aren’t hearing the last out of that Dodgers nucleus. They just ran into a juggernaut Cubs team that will now open a World Series in Cleveland on Tuesday. Baseball history will be made.

Wrigleyville can rest easy, for once. There’s a fair chance it won’t at all.

Your Saturday Baseball Post


It might be an NCAA fall Saturday, but I think we’ve got an all-timer on our hands tonight at Wrigley Field in game six of the NLCS.

It’s Hendricks-Kershaw, in the primetime; with a nip in the air from historic Wrigley Field. It’s the best pitcher in the game trying to extend the Dodgers season and the Cubs trying to win one game to get to their first World Series since 1945. It’s going to be complete insanity. And as I’ve said since the beginning of this series – I think it’s going the full 18 rounds. Dodgers find a way tonight and extend this season one more day.

And of course it’s a Saturday. A glorious Saturday. Thank you for your continued support of Diamond Hoggers. Enjoy your Saturday, and you better be tuned in tonight at Chicago.

The Dodgers try to lean on the magic of The Ravine one last time


It’s game five of the NLCS out in wild Los Angeles. Grab your game notes, your pop corn, your cracker jacks, your Fireball… whatever it is people do…. and get ready for a showdown.

What a wild, magical summer it was out at the gem of baseball, the mecca that is Dodger Stadium. It’s hard to believe the leaves have fallen (although not in L.A.), and that this could be the last time we get to watch a game at that park all year unless the Dodgers win two out of three.

I think there are points and counterpoints and a case you can make for both of these teams winning this series – and which is better for baseball. Personally, it’s just hard to root against the damn Dodgers in Vin Scully’s farewell season with all these magical moments. It just feels like it isn’t meant to end in the next few days.

Then you’ve got the Cubs, and what kind of super villain would root against them?

So you settle in, you soak it in, and enjoy the 18 round heavyweight fight we thought this would be.

The Cleveland Indians Have Gone Back to the World Series

[Box Score]

[Cleveland Plain Dealer] [Plain Dealer Copy] [Fangraphs – August Fagerstrom] [Fangraphs – Jeff Sullivan] [Deadspin] [Hardball Talk]

The Cleveland Indians are back in the World Series. It happened when I was in middle school (1995). It happened when I was then again a freshman in high school (1997), and I loved that team. But then there was a drought with so many close calls (1998, 2007, and a few others in between). But this team – it never fit the blueprint of a World Series team after a rash of injuries to their starting rotation. In my mind, this was a good and sound team with an obvious tremendous manager who played the game fundamentally right. But I still saw Boston and Toronto as superior Juggernauts in terms of teams that could knock them off.

With that, they went 7-1 to begin the playoffs. They’ve had little resistance in their path. So let’s look at the reasons I’m happy the Indians are in the World Series in successive order:

  • Francisco Lindor
  • Terry Francona
  • Andrew Miller
  • Jose Ramirez
  • Corey Kluber
  • Cody Allen

And that’s it in terms of guys I would pull off their roster in terms of guys I would take over some of the other playoff teams in the tournament.

I’m also extremely happy for so many of my friends and family members who love the Tribe – the ones who have hung in through all the bullshit through all the years. When I say ‘bullshit’, there have been some really bad breaks and unfortunate turns that Cleveland has endured, and this is a lot more special than the Cavaliers run. It’s baseball. This is the damn mecca of the sports world when your team makes a World Series.

This shot says it all.
This shot says it all.

Of course, it’s nice also because I’m discussing spending the money and finally attending a World Series game to cross it off my bucket list.

But did I think this Indians team had a legitimate shot to do this? Not after the injuries to Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco, and then the minor one to Kluber. Not drawing Boston in the first round.

To me, it’s a bit flukey because I watched the games and saw the lack of offense from their opponent right down to when Ryan Merritt went four and change yesterday. But none of that matters now. The Indians showed up and played the game on their schedule and scored more than the other team when 27 outs were recorded. If you watch sports long enough, these things happen. At this point with the way things have went, it almost feels destiny at this point that the Indians just win the whole damn thing.

Let the record state, that with all the heavily loaded Manny Ramirez/Jim Thome/Grady Sizemore/Pronk Hafner teams that fell short of getting back to the World Series, somehow this little Indians team that could found a way. Baseball is great and surprising all the time.

Here’s Trevor Bauer’s Severed-up Pinkie, not that it mattered


Two-thirds of an inning for head-case Bauer tonight in Toronto. And then the Tribe bullpen took over and ran without problem to the victory.

Friggin-drone accident. What an asshole, to work on a Star Wars toy drone or whatever the Hell it was and cost his pitching-short team only to be bailed out by the likes of Dan Otero, Bryan Shaw, and Zach McAlister. Cleveland has no idea the good fortune they really are having.

But at least….. at least he didn’t get a standing ovation tonight like he did after 4 and 2/3 against the Red Sox in Cleveland in the ALDS. Because that was just weird.

Click through the jump to see video goodness of Bauer’s bleeding finger.
Continue reading Here’s Trevor Bauer’s Severed-up Pinkie, not that it mattered

Baseball’s American League has Gag-Jobbed this to the Cleveland Indians


Let me start by saying: the Cleveland Indians are a good team. They’re really good. I’ve said since mid-summer that the Indians were a team that played the game the right way, ran the bases well, played good defense, had the pen to shorten a game and had a guy who manages with his hair on fire.

But this run through the playoffs like a hot knife through butter? Well the way they’ve done it has been nothing short of a complete choke job on the parts of Boston and Toronto. The stats support it, but if you watch the games; no team in history just seems to hold that mandatory +1 lead throughout the entire postseason.

And sure, if there’s an organization in baseball that deserves a little good fortune, it’s probably the Indians. I’m really happy for their fans now being just a game from the World Series after beating the Blue Jays in Toronto by a score of 4-2.

But if you’re one of these Indians fans – and there are a lot of them – who are telling me that this run is simply because Cleveland is this damn good…. you’re just not being realistic.

I’ve watched baseball for three decades now. You’re going to tell me that this Indians team is really the type of team that runs through the American league, six games in a row without a sweat? They’re not even the best Indians team that has been in the postseason. I would argue they’re not even in the top FIVE Indians teams that have been in postseason play. The thing is, I don’t even think they’re that hot.

I’ve seen two teams now in Boston and Toronto who are getting into hitters counts with zero plan; swinging at breaking balls in the dirt and completely gripping all too hard. That’s the biggest thing I see watching night over night.

I will buy into the Indians being anything more than a good team that caught some fluke only when they beat one of these heavily-loaded National League teams in the Cubs or Dodgers in the World Series.

As they say on Reddit, tldr; the Indians are playing a better brand of baseball right now than their playoff opponents because those opponents have been completely flat for six straight games. You know it’s true!

Now, win one more game you cursed fuckers! It’s on my bucket list to get to a World Series game and I think I have the wife’s approval to spend the doll hairs. Don’t fuck this up like you always do, Tribe!

NLCS Game Two: Kershaw Dazzles on a Sunday Night at Wrigley


[Box Score]

Clayton Kershaw gave the Dodgers the game they absolutely had to have from their ace. Seven scoreless innings, one walk, two hits, and six strikeouts at rabid Wrigley Field on a Sunday night to even the series. Kenley Jansen worked the final two innings for the save in a 1-0 ballgame. It’s becoming a theme of the 2016 postseason to see the relief ace in weird spots, before the ninth inning. And for the most part they’ve delivered.

And the offense in this game was as depressing as the late Sunday night it was played on. The lone run of the game came on an Adrian Gonzalez home run to center field.

After everything that happened in game one, we’ve got a series. And now there are three games in Los Angeles where the Dodgers just seem to have some added magic. This is going to be a long, great series if you couldn’t tell from the first two games.

Indians have a perfect ALCS win to open series at the corners of Carnegie & Ontario

[Box Score]

I watched the entire game one of the ALCS last night with friends. I like the Indians enough – although I’m in disbelief how they’re doing this. And I really like Francisco Lindor, whose two-run home run last night was the only scoring in the entire game.

And as an Indians fan, what more can you really ask for? They have it made right now. Their best player homered on a perfect fall night at home to open up the League Championship Series and get them a win with their ace on the bump.

For all Cleveland fans have been through, they have it pretty good right now.

And I have to say, through four games in the playoffs; I am still waiting on the team that faces the Indians to get the big hit. It’s just not happening, it seems.

Corey Kluber gave them six-plus of shutout baseball, and then passed the baton to a dominant Andrew Miller. Cody Allen took over in the ninth to retire Toronto without a hiccup.

I would be totally fine with the Indians getting to the World Series. At this point, that’s the only way I’ll get to attend a World Series game live with the way the Reds are going.

Javier Baez provides a classic Wrigley Moment to end a great Friday of Baseball

[Box Score]

Johnny Cueto had thrown a great game. It looked like the bad guys from San Francisco might escape death again, but when Cueto threw the pitch; he knew off the bat it was a fatal blow.

What a night it would have been to be at Wrigley last night. Or to be young and be in Wrigleyville. And you can’t just go up there if you’re not a Cubs fan and soak it in, and really get all of it. But if you grew up a Cubs fan, and you were there last night; you’ve really earned the right to soak it all up.

I imagine it was a crazy, city-wide party that lasted until the wee hours of the morning like Harry Caray used to do. And today they wake with glazed eyes and ready to do it all over again. Life is good in baseball’s Camelot right now. And Kris Bryant gets to play King Arthur with Jeff Samardija on the bump in game two.

The Cubs winning this series and advancing in the playoffs – and knocking off the boring Giants in an even numbered year – is good for baseball. We can all enjoy it a little bit for that reason.