Your 2010 World Series Preview Post

Alright, so you’re here because this is one of your favorite baseball blogs; and it’s the start of the World Series today. Think I’d let you down and not do a preview because I’m still licking my wounds over my guys getting knocked out of the postseason?

Well, I would. But it’s the World Series. It’s my favorite sport. And I think it’s going to be a really good World Series even if the major networks are feeling a little shafted because their dearest Yankees and Phillies didn’t make it to the next level so we could get another played out and re-hashed series. That’s just too damn bad. The Yankees and Phillies can go out and buy another berth to the World Series this off-season, so if you can survive just one more year you’ll get your highly coveted match-up of market super powers.

I had the Giants here over the Phillies because of their loaded starting pitching staff, the best bullpen of flamethrowers that this game has to offer, and their timely hitting. The world continues to get a look at Buster Posey; who is going to be one of the next great ones in this game. Juan Uribe, Freddy Sanchez, Kung Fu Panda, Pat the Bat Burrell, Cody Ross. The guys are all getting big clutch hits right now and their sub par lineup isn’t exposed.

Here’s the thing: both of these teams have a ton of pitching. The Giants probably have a slight bit more. But the Rangers have enough that the gap isn’t wide.

Where I really see a difference in this World Series; and where the difference will be made is in the power hitting lineup of the Texas Rangers.

People are constantly saying that ‘pitching wins championships’. You know what wins out when both teams have a bit of a staff? Who is going to knock your fences down one more time than the other group.

I don’t like this series to be short in favor of either team. I think they’re fairly evenly matched, so you’re going to get the opportunity to see the full array of characters on both teams and you’re going to see both of these teams probably take some games on the road.

In the end, the Texas lineup just hits too much. They find a way to carve out runs and even with the big boppers in the middle of the lineup they do a great job of putting pressure on the opposition.

Texas is favored in this series, and they’re going to win this series and be World Champions. I feel as sure about it as I have the previous few years when I’ve nailed the World Series predictions. Oh and now that the regular season is concluded don’t forget to see the other stuff I called (Chad Billingsley not withstanding) in 2010.

It’s World Series time again. Rejoice, celebrate, and soak it in. One more series until the tarps are put out for the winter.

Prediction: Texas Rangers over San Francisco Giants in 6 games.

The Baseball Show: Batting Stance Guy (Gar Ryness)


Tonight on The Baseball Show, co-host Mike Rosenbaum from The Golden Sombrero baseball blog interviewed Batting Stance Guy. Okay, this guy was absolutely hilarious. I thought that I loved the game of baseball more than anyone in this world until we had the chance to talk to BSG.

Topics included:
-His favorite player Kent Hrbek
-How his ‘talent’ came about
-A great story about Joe Mauer
-Derek Jeter & Josh Beckett giving him a hard time
-His stances to look out for in this World Series
-His thoughts on Brandon Phillips’ ‘pinata swing’

If you love baseball, you will enjoy this hour and get some laughs out of it. And please, do yourself a favor and give Batting Stance Guy a follow on Twitter and check out his book.

Thanks again, Gar. If you ever make it out to the Midwest during the 2011 season the beer is on us.

Tomorrow night on The Baseball Show: Batting Stance Guy

Tomorrow night on The Baseball Show, co-host Mike Rosenbaum of The Golden Sombrero and I have a guest who we’ve wanted to track down for a long time; Batting Stance Guy, Gar Ryness. He might call it the ‘least marketable skill in America’, but we along with about anyone else who has followed this game seem to think he’s about as entertaining as it gets.

Follow Batting Stance Guy on Twitter, or buy his book Batting Stance Guy: A Love Letter to Baseball which is getting all kinds of great reviews (five stars on Amazon right now).

Now look at our boy cracking up Manny Ramirez:

Clearly a master of the 80’s:

You’d better tune in. It’s going to be excellent.

The Baseball Show: MLB Agent Matt Sosnick


Tonight on The Baseball Show, Matt Sosnick from Sosnick & Cobbe Sports Agency joined Co-Host Mike Rosenbaum of The Golden Sombrero and myself as a guest.

Topics discussed included the rise and fall of Dontrelle Willis, sports agency as a profession, Matt’s experiences in Major League Baseball, stories about his clients, Josh Willingham and Ricky Nolasco’s off-season contract negotiations, why Adam Dunn can’t find a permanent home, and a lot of interesting stuff in between.

The best part of the show is when we discussed Jay Bruce. If you’ve read this blog in any length; you know we love Jay Bruce because of not only the player that he is but the person that he is and the way he carries himself as well.

Matt goes into detail about Jay, and we talk about the off-season contract negotiations between the Reds and Jay Bruce.

Matt says that Jay Bruce would like to be a Cincinnati Red for as long as possible, and that it’s only up to the Reds and Walt Jocketty to make a multi-year deal happen. Mentioned as a starting point by Matt was the contract that Justin Upton signed this past off-season as a fair basis.

The key points in doing this deal would be the same thing that we’ve been saying all along (with a ton of other Reds fans). Jay Bruce is a 23 year old who plays a premium position in right field and has Gold Glove caliber defense. Aside from the fact that Jay’s career is just starting; from a business standpoint the only way that Jay doesn’t reach his full potential (what could be a 500-600 home run career) is by injury. From a character standpoint, Matt speaks on the fact that Jay is as fine of a person as he’s ever represented.

As I told Matt, in my history of being a Reds fan I can never remember a player that the fan base was more insistent upon the organization locking up long-term. Do the right thing Mr. Jocketty.

Thursday: A Very Special guest on The Baseball Show

On Thursday, we have a very special guest joining us on The Baseball Show.

MLB agent Matt Sosnick of Sosnick & Cobbe Sports drops by to talk about the profession, his agency, and of course the sport we love.

Before tuning into the show make sure you’ve check out Sosnick & Cobbe’s client list at the MLB level. I must say of all the show interviews we’ve done, I’m the most stoked I’ve ever been to pick Matt’s brain and welcome him as a guest.

It’ll be fun and interesting. Make sure you don’t miss it.

Reds: Lock up Jay Bruce long-term’s John Fay asks today (in an almost campaigning fashion), whether or not it’s time to sign Jay Bruce long-term:

Bruce’s OPS after the All-Star Break was .951. Only five full-time National League players did better: Carlos Gonzalez, Joey Votto, Troy Tulowitzki and Jayson Werth. And Bruce will still be 23 on Opening Day 2011.

The Reds think Bruce will qualify for arbitration as a Super 2. They’ve got to look at locking him up long-term.

What do you think? Time to offer Bruce a multi-year deal?

What I think; is that our team’s beat writer who watches them play every day thinks that we should offer him a long term deal.

Before I campaign–and why should I have to when it comes to all-world, home-grown talent finally delivering like it should–I’d like to reference a quote that I hope the Reds see.

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get where you’ve always been.

For how long did the Reds and their ownership group try to pay players on a year to year basis while finishing in the basement of the NL Central? How many years did the Reds ride it out only to trade guys who grew up on our farm system? It didn’t get them anywhere, except show us all a place we don’t want to return to.

It’s time for the Reds front office to make a statement. Take a player like Jay Bruce who is loved by the fans a great face of the organization, sign him long term. Say to the people who follow your organization that: “This, this is the type of guy we want to build around. This is the type of reward that people get here by handling themselves with class, hard work, and getting it done on the field.”

I’m not talking about a three year deal. Or a four year deal. That’s what old, loser front-offices did to lock guys up “long-term” here. They did it with Brandon Phillips. Walt Jocketty knows what a real long term deal is. He pounded out plenty of them in St. Louis. A true long term contract would be between 6 and 10 years. Buy out a few of Jay’s arbitration-eligible years; similar to how Tampa Bay did with Evan Longoria. Or to how the Cleveland Indians did with Grady Sizemore a few years back. That’s just two examples.

As for the why they should do it (and trust me, they know they should), from Fangraphs: Jay Bruce finished the season with a UZR of +19.9, the second highest rating in all of baseball behind Brett Gardner (LF).

Jay Bruce finished this season with a WAR of 5.2, the second best on the team behind Joey Votto. Scott Rolen was third at 5.0. For a 23 year old to finish a season with a WAR of 5.2, and he had six weeks in which he didn’t really hit much; that’s a guy who is scary good.

His Line Drive % increased back to 20.1% and his walk rate increased again from 9.8% or 10.1%. On defense, he is one of best defensive players in the game. It’s going to be a sheer crime if he doesn’t win the Gold Glove award. I’m gonna make a prediction: Jay Bruce will be a contender for the NL MVP in 2011. And if that happens, how many millions of dollars will the Reds have cost themselves by trying to wait one more year?

If you are a winning organization; and the Reds have taken the steps to tell us that they are every step of the way, you don’t let a kid that grew up in your farm system who plays corner outfield (differing from first base where Joey Votto plays because offense and defense aren’t at a premium at that spot as they are in right field) ever leave town. Jay Bruce is not the type of individual that LeBron James is, and he won’t hold the organization hostage. He’ll take a fair contract that provides him with stability for the next 6 to 7 years, allowing him to possibly be a free agent again when he’s 30.

Take care of this kid. Do the right thing here, and do it now while it is a win-win for both sides. That’s what good business is all about. And take into consideration the fans. This is what the knowledgeable, die-hard, and good fans really want to see. You want to build off-season excitement in your organization? Lock-up a guy long-term who puts butts in the seats every night.

If nothing else, it’s simple economics guns & butter. Jay Bruce was meant to be a Cincinnati Red for a long, long time. It’s time to make it happen, Reds.

World Series Favorites

To some, the first games of the NL and ALCS might be a little too early to talk about World Series favorites. Historically, baseball’s Championship Series’ produces, if not unexpected, drawn out results. Meaning, simply, the focus in the sporting world isn’t usually on the outcome of the World Series; it’s aimed at each respective series and the drama happening therein.

However, if you’re the gambling type, looking to lay your money down on the Series, then it helps to know which team is favored at this juncture and why they’re pulling favor over the other remaining teams.

Checking out the best online casinos and sports books on the ‘Net, you’ll find that the Yankees are now huge favorites to win the ALCS and head to the Series after their impressive come-from-behind win against the Texas Rangers.

What started out as a great game for Texas ended in quintessential Yankees’ style, as CJ Wilson pitched a great 7 innings, left with a 3 run lead, and watched as New York tore the bullpen apart and came back for the 6-5 win.

With the Rangers dropping 5 on CC in 4 innings, however, there is a glimmer of hope that, if the Rangers can knock the Yankees’ horse around, then Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte, with the Rangers’ Cliff Lee going to head-to-head with the aging star in game three, won’t present an insurmountable problem.

Texas’ odds are about as good as hitting the jackpot on the best online slots for winning 4 games, though, because, in any close game, The Fireman himself, Mariano Rivera, is coming in to shut the Rangers’ lineup down. Not to even mention that the Rangers have yet to win a home game in this postseason with home-field advantage all the way through. Their problems may be a little on the mental side, and the pure physicality of the Yankees only adds to Texas’ woes.

All told, the Yankees are looking good at 7:5 (give or take) to make to the World Series.

In the NLCS, things are a little bit different. At the time of this WS update, game one of the series, Giants @ Phillies, hasn’t been played yet. Even still, nothing much changes in the predictions. With a better all-around team, as proven over the past three seasons, and home-field advantage, the Phillies are favored in the NLCS by a fairly wide margin.

If Lincecum can pick up the win, however, while Halladay goes the way of CC, then we’ll be looking at a different situation. But why speculate further when we’re already speculating so much?

In a game like baccarat online, you know what you’re getting in terms of odds. In MLB, it’s hard to say.

If the World Series ends up as predicted and the Yankees face off against the Phillies, we’ll have a rematch of the Series with Philadelphia hoping to take some sweet revenge.

They won’t be favored to do so. Even with home-field advantage and Halladay possibly able to play three games in the series, the Yankees still hold a slight edge over the Phillies, by about 13/10 to 27/20. Sure, it remains close, but the Yanks, like always, are pulling favorites.

Our buddy, with Bunny

So the other night our buddy Dave went out tipping a few bottles with Bunny Arroyo and Ryan Hanigan. I wanted to wait until I got the whole story straight from the horse’s mouth before posting the photo, but I haven’t been able to yet.

Only word I got via text that night: “Hanigan is awesome. Bronson is kind of a dick. There’s 19 year olds flocking to these guys, crawling out of every crack. We didn’t have to wait in the 2 hour line to enter the club. God I wish I was a pro.”

I asked him where Bruce and Phillips were.

His response (at 3:58 AM): “at home eating pudding”.

Still not sure what that means.

NLDS Game Three: We Didn’t Lose; We just ran out of outs

The Reds battled within every inch of their life this past Sunday evening at Great American Ball Park. They just ran into a pitcher who was on his game and couldn’t be rattled. And it just wasn’t their time. While it was a sad ending, it’s just the beginning.

These guys will be back. It’s going to be a long run of emotions like this over the next decade barring something unforeseen taking place. A wise man once said that his team didn’t lose, they just ran out of time. That’s what this game felt like. I watched helplessly for 9 innings as my boys struggled to get on base. They hit several hard shots, but each time they did; it was right at someone.

Ah, the playoff bunting. The postseason bunting. You don’t know how long I’ve waited to see that hung at Great American Ball Park. And you know what, this is proof that we lived in such a day and time. No one can take it away from us. Despite getting swept by the mightier Phillies, this is something to remember. And getting to see this game is a memory I’ll hold for a lifetime, no matter the outcome.

This crowd threw everything they had at Cole Hamels for 9 innings. And for 9 innings he threw strikes through the heart of the plate, pumping 94-95 heat and mixing in his change up. I told people I was sitting with before this game that if Hamels was throwing that kind of heat with this off-speed stuff mixed in, it was going to be a long night. And to be honest this was the finest pitching performance that I’ve ever seen in person.

I was sitting up in the third deck on the first base line. It was as high up as I’ve ever sat at a game at Great American, as I was about 4 rows from the top of the stadium. It was a beautiful October night and the city was really on display for anyone who saw it.

When the game began I wanted no dinner, the nerves and atmosphere got me that pumped up. I have to say; the atmosphere that I saw is something that could get addicting. Once you attend a postseason baseball game, it makes a normal game in the middle of May seem like something very ordinary and the intensity level just isn’t comparable.

Fountain Square was truly rocking before this game. As we walked the street on the way to the ball park, there was truly a different vibe in the air in downtown Cincinnati. As I passed center city where the entire Reds team had held a downtown rally just days earlier before they left off for Philadelphia; I thought back to when I was a kid and was walking on Fountain Square with my family out of the Westin Hotel the night after the 1990 Reds had won the World Series. I had no idea that twenty years later I’d be there as a grown man seeing them do battle in the postseason once again.

I took this video as the Reds were getting introduced. This is truly as loud as I’ve ever heard Cincinnati at a baseball game. Keep in mind there was a record crowd for Great American Ball Park on hand to cheer the Reds. It honestly felt more like a football atmosphere for 9 innings than it did baseball.

Was the Braves hiring of Fredi Gonzalez a mistake? “Quite simply I think this is a huge mistake. Fredi Gonzalez is not Bobby Cox. Just because he has worked with Bobby Cox does not mean he will be as effective as Bobby Cox. He won’t. The thing that made Bobby so great was his ability to get the most from his players. They always played hard, they never quit, they never said a single bad thing about him. A lot of this is a result of Bobby’s players-first management style, but also a result of Bobby’s personality. Fredi and Bobby do not have identical personalities, and Fredi will not be able to command the same type of respect from his players. He won’t be able to get as much out of them as Bobby did.” [Capitol Avenue Club]

We ran out of outs, but I'm still believing somehow

I haven’t said a word since the 2010 Reds season ended. What really could be said? Cole Hamels went ahead and Al Leiter’d us right out of the NLDS.

Yes, we were there. And yes we’ll right about it all at length. We just needed a moment. The Reds had a Hell of a year and the truth is we really weren’t ready for it to come to an abrupt end.

So hang in there, we’ll be with you momentarily.

Bobby’s Last Stand

Bobby Cox’s career is over. After 25 long years in the game, he’s seen his last while wearing a uniform.

He made the postseason an amazing 16 times. During that span 10 different men led his squad in saves. No matter what kind of team the Braves had during his reign, he won. All the while he was one of the greatest players managers who ever lived.

I’m going to miss Bobby. He’s been managing for as long as I’ve loved this game. Over that amount of time, a guy almost seems like family to you. Plus I’ll miss that walk out to the mound in his Depends.

It was a great run, Bobby Cox. This game will never see another like you.

Bobby Cox career managerial record. [Baseball Reference]
NLDS Game Four recap. [Capitol Avenue Club]