Your Saturday Baseball Open Thread

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It’s the weekend and we hope you’re enjoying it wherever you may be.

We aren’t.

As soon as work let out yesterday (first day back from having the flu) we had a horrible storm. We lost power for the entire night. We are the only people that I know without power. But that’s not what is annoying.

This kind of occurrence only takes place on the weekend. If I had to guess, I’ll get power back at the house probably on Monday morning just in time to return to work. It would never happen during the middle of the work week. It would never happen on a Monday morning. It would only ever lock down and ruin an entire weekend.

Have a good Saturday everyone.

UPDATE (4:15 PM): The power has been restored. Thank goodness. I’ll never feel bored again.

Friday’s Betting on Baseball

Every week at this time we try to scout out in advance some of the better upcoming pitching matchups. For this week, in searching for some free MLB picks, this is what we came up with.

I’m a big parlay guy. That’s how I made the final payment on my wife’s engagement ring. I took two big underdogs that jumped out at me, and then I found that third team that was the sure winner. Ironically, it was her team; the Yankees who ended up winning the final game that night that paid me out the largest parlay bet I’ve ever won.

You have to find three or four games that talk to you. If you take a look at more than that it’s too much. Find three or four that stand out on the page from you. Here’s three or four picks I really like tonight. My picks are in bold.

Philadelphia Phillies +110 at Florida Marlins
How long do you think that Cliff Lee will remain without a win? Josh Johnson just hasn’t been good. Marlins are struggling mightily, and the Phils still think they can get something going and salvage this season. They can’t, but for the purpose of your bet you can rest assured that the Phils win in South Beach tonight.

N.Y. Mets at Los Angeles Dodgers +105
I love a home dog. Someone tell me that R.A. Dickey’s last start was nothing to worry about. Wrong. His knuckler spun the wrong way, he lacked control, and he’s about to run into the buzzsaw that is the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers are coming off three straight shutouts. Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier are missing from the lineup. To make things worse, they have to throw Aaron Harang. Yet something is very curious about this line. Take the first place home team with confidence.

Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves -120
Not an overwhelming favorite for a home team, so you can still make some money on this one. Ross Detwiler just broke back into the rotation. The Nationals have scored 10 runs or more in three straight games. I’ve watched this team all year and they’re coming back down to earth. That Pythagorean has to even out somehow. I would look strongly at the UNDER 9 total in this one and take that home team again.

The Return of King Felix

It’s a beautiful thing when something works out just the way you envisioned it to, even if it happens just once.

I traded for King Felix about six weeks ago in fantasy baseball. Since then he has failed to even be a prince. Last night against the Red Sox he wouldn’t be denied. The Mariners won 1-0. It was his fifth career shutout. He walked just one and struck out 13 on 128 pitches.

I’ve got to get my staff of Felix, R.A. Dickey, C.C. Sabathia, Josh Johnson, and Josh Beckett rolling. We got a long way to go and a short time to get there.

Baseball Weekend Preview

My goodness the heat wave that has hit the country.

The last time I remember heat this hot I spent a week at Denison University baseball camp wondering if I had really somehow gone to Hell. We were staying in dorms that did not have air conditioning. We were sixth graders. We did drills and scrimmaged for some 8 to 10 hours a day. The other hours remaining I laid on my bed, delirious from the heat. When I got home and my father asked how baseball camp went, I told him it was a little hot. He said that I had lucked out and drawn the five hottest days of the summer for camp. Lucky me.

Now this is some serious heat going on right now. This is ‘I’m mad at my dog because he keeps having to piss and he’s dragging me out in this’ suffocating heat. Definitely the hottest I can remember it in the past five or ten years.

So if you’re out and about this weekend, or your wife is making you go to the local ‘parade of homes’ charade, make sure you wear light clothing and drink plenty of water. And for Gods sake don’t get too drunk and be hungover in this unless you have a death wish.

Now for the weekend’s baseball:
1) Pittsburgh Pirates (40-35) at St. Louis Cardinals (40-36)
Pittsburgh hasn’t had this much fun heading into July since the 1997 Al Martin Pirates started a seven-game winning streak on tomorrow’s date some 15 years ago. Danny Darwin was in their rotation. DANNY DARWIN! It’s refreshing to see the Pirates relevant. It’s good for baseball. People keep asking me if I think these guys are for real. I don’t think they’ve got the firepower in the lineup beyond Andrew Mccutchen to keep this going (I see they became Drew Sutton’s 18th team this season), but I absolutely am buying their scrappy pitching staff. James McDonald, A.J. Burnett and company will provide quality starts all year long. It’s funny, I can’t see them making the playoffs but I can see them dissuading the Reds and Cardinals enough to be a difference maker. Something tells me this is not another Pirates collapse team, but we have to see how the rest of the story plays out.

2) Cincinnati Reds (41-34) at San Francisco Giants (44-33)
The Giants shut the Reds out 5-0 last night and Madison Bugarner allowed only one hit all night. Such is the way it goes for the Reds, and they’ve got ten more games of NL West before this is over. That was also the Giants fourth straight shutout thrown. The Reds just really don’t seem to hit out in San Francisco. Two runs is always a struggle. Guys never do much out on the west coast. The Reds just seem to go through the motion. Something has to give, or the NL Central will boast a new first-place team after the weekend.

3) Washington Nationals (43-31) at Atlanta Braves (40-35)
The Braves are staying hot on the tails of the Nationals. The story of the weekend will be Tony La Russa trying to choose his last NL All-Star body between Bryce Harper and Chipper Jones. With the weather the country is having, Davey Johnson might make like the Florida cannibal and devour someone’s face. He’ll be in surly mood for sure.

4) Chicago White Sox (41-35) at New York Yankees (46-29)
Two first place teams squaring off at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx at the height of the summer. It doesn’t get much better than that. I was actually at the old stadium on a day that felt a lot like it will feel this weekend. It gets hot as hell in the land-locked Bronx. I need to make it to the new stadium, badly.

5) Cleveland Indians (38-37) at Baltimore Orioles (41-34)
When these two teams get together, it always reminds me of that sophomore year homecoming in high school that I skipped to watch the 1997 ALCS game two. I am really sorry about that, Kelsey. Please forgive me. But those were memorable years. What did I care about women? The Indians were trotting out Matt Williams, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, David Justice. Life was grand, and I think I had only kissed like one girl back then.

Pitching Match-ups to DVR

Friday:
Justin Verlander vs. David Price
Cliff Lee vs. Josh Johnson

Saturday:
Nothing to note unless you like Stephen Strasburg and Mike Minor.

Sunday:
Gio Gonzalez vs. Tim Hudson

Video of the Week:

In this week’s uncovered gem, Jim Leyland is going to spend the next minute cussing out Barry Bonds back in spring training 1991. Some twenty years have came and gone. Jim Leyland looked as old and grizzled back then as he does now.

I’ve often said that the reason I love Jim Leyland is because for anyone out there who has met my father; this man is my father’s doppelganger. They are the same person, down to the dinners consisting of only chocolate milk and cigarettes. My father is a cowboy. He would have no problem telling Barry Bonds to go fuck himself. I assure you.

Bryce Harper wants to spend his entire career in Washington

Sounds legit to me. Adam Kilgore via the Washington Post:

About three weeks ago, Harper talked to teammate Ryan Zimmerman about playing in the same city for the duration of his career. Zimmerman, who grew up in Virginia, signed a contract extension this offseason that ensures he will stay in Washington through at least 2019. Harper told him he wanted the same thing in his career.

“You look at Cal Ripken. You look at Derek Jeter. You look at all the greats that played for one team their whole career,” Harper said last weekend, sitting in the dugout at Camden Yards in Baltimore. “I want to be like that. I’ve always wanted to be like that. I’ve always wanted to play with that same team.”

As a baseball fan, this is just good news.

We also learn where Harper lives (in a top-story apartment in Pentagon City), where he eats breakfast (Ted’s Bulletin and Barracks Row), he doesn’t drink, and what teammates he prefers to hang with.

There’s also this great quote, on drinking alcohol:

“That stuff has never appealed to me,” he said. “It’s never appealed to me to go out and get hammered or anything like that. That’s never been my nature. I want to take care of my body. I want my body to be strong all the time. I don’t want to be fatigued. I don’t want to drink and have my liver collapse. I want to play for a long time, and I want to be strong for a long time.

“I’ve always said my body is a temple. I take care of it. I don’t want anything to go inside of it that’s going to destroy it or anything like that. I always tell my parents I’d never do anything like that. I’m going to keep strong on that. There’s a lot of people that say, ‘Ah, no you won’t, no you won’t.’ But I’ve always told myself I would.”

He said he also feels certain obligations.

“I’m not going to be a clown and go out, do anything like that,” Harper said. “I want to respect this town. I want to respect the people in this town. I want this town to know, Harper is going to give this town his best every single day. He’s not going to play hung over. He’s not going to do anything like that. He’s going to be the real deal. He’s not going to do any stupid things that destroys his career. I really want to give my best every day. If I don’t do those things, that’s not what’s going to happen.”

Awesome.

Bryce Harper’s Coors Field Blast Grants Fans Bonus Baseball

Harper’s 8th career home run off Rafael Betancourt in the top of the 9th inning.

I knew Bryce Harper couldn’t get out of town without dialing one long distance in Colorado. He waited until his final at-bat in the four game series to put another notch in his belt. This one tied the game at 10-10 off Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt. The Rockies escaped with an 11-10 victory in 10 innings.

It was almost 100 degrees in Colorado. Factor in the altitude; do you think that everyone was happy to see Harper serve one off the AT&T sign in the back of the Rockies bullpen and silently announce that more baseball was to be played?

Game 73, 2012: Favorite Reds Win All Summer

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com]

Jay Bruce clobbered his 17th home run of the season off Marco Estrada, who had lights out (12 K’s) stuff. This was culminated by Bronson Arroyo throwing 7-innings of no-hit ball. I started to think about the last time the Reds threw a no-hitter. I started getting into every pitch. Then Arroyo walked a guy. Then a double took away the no-hitter after 7 and 1/3. Then the Reds lost the lead in a matter of moments.

But the Reds were destined to win this one. Any time the Reds play at home and get a big home run from Bruce, along with a quality pitching performance and win, I’m extremely happy. And we’re at that part of the summer where baseball takes center stage. This is when you want your team to at least peak for the primary time. The days are long and hot, so you might as well mark the calendar date with as many W’s as you can.

Drew Stubbs absolutely crushed a pitch in the bottom of the 8th inning off John Axford. The Reds would win 4-3 after Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the 9th. He did the Cuban Missile Crawl.

The Reds were alone in first for at least another night.

Aroldis Chapman’s (Double) Barrel-roll

We’re on it. If you wanted to see Aroldis Chapman’s barrel rolls from the pitching mound in Cincinnati after disposing of the Milwaukee Brewers in the ninth tonight, click play.

As I told a friend, if a guy did this after closing out my team I would want blood. So it’s a damn good thing that Chapman’s on my team!

We’re going to call this the ‘Cuban Missile Crawl’. This guy’s head is clearly not right.

It’s Anthony Rizzo Day, Part Deux

When the hopes and dreams of a baseball mecca rest on your shoulders, your debut in that uniform is a big deal.

That’s why Anthony Rizzo’s Chicago Cubs debut is one you want to pay attention to tonight. The Cubs haven’t had such a highly-touted prospect in a long time.

Even though it’s supposed to be engrained in my bloodline to hate the Cubs as a Reds fan, I hope the Cubbies have landed a power hitting star in his youth. Baseball is just more fun when the Cubs are relevant.

(*Note: Rizzo posted a .141/.281/.242 in his initial debut with the Padres last year)

Josh Willingham’s Sobering Sunday Swing

So much can change with one moment. An entire season’s emotion can be directed in just one week. With Josh Willingham’s soul-crushing bomb off Aroldis Chapman yesterday (a 4-3 loss), the Reds dropped five of six contests this past week. I think for the first time I’ve started to question my beliefs in the 2012 Reds, if only just a little bit.

Baseball really has a way of sobering you. This was supposed to be a series that really got the Reds back on track. I saw the club exploding for offense at home against the patchwork Twins pitching staff. A sweep could easily have been hoped for but at worst I saw the Reds taking two of three and heading into another home series against the Brewers beginning today.

The Baseball Gods had other ideas.

What seems to be both funny and ironic about Willingham destroying a Chapman pitch into the seats is there’s probably no other guy around baseball that should be wearing a Reds uniform than Willingham. The Reds bypassed him in the off-season, allowing him to sign with a non-contender in Minnesota. He and Jay Bruce share the same agent, Sosnick & Cobbe. Tell me right now that Josh Willingham couldn’t have fit in beautifully in this current Reds lineup playing the outfield.

Instead, he stepped to the plate on Sunday to play the part of Darth Vader in baseball cleats. No one should have been shocked. And perhaps my cocky and invincible feelings about this Reds team were based too much off high-running emotions when things were going well.

A Major League baseball season is so much like life. While there are both high and low moments it’s important to never feel too comfortable. You never want to feel like too much is guaranteed or certain until you’re sure you’ve reached the end. Right now, I’ll admit that I don’t know what is going to happen with these Reds and while all along I’ve promised anyone who will listen that the Reds are going to the postseason, the truth is right now I really don’t know.

Dusty Baker is making managerial moves like he would like to be terminated. I walked into my house Friday night just in time to see Scott Rolen held at third base rather than scoring. I quickly received a barrage of text messages from friends watching the game berating Dusty’s lack of forethought to pinch run for the aging Rolen. That move cost us that game.

Don’t be surprised if the Reds get back on track tonight with a big win. It’s the way things go. But if they don’t, more doubt starts to creep in. If the Reds don’t deliver this season, they’ll waste the finest season of Joey Votto’s career just as they wasted an incredibly clutch two-run home run that should have went down as the game winner yesterday.

We can’t make time speed up so we can know how each chapter end. We just have to patiently see how it all plays out, with the characters taking on a different role in the novel each week and each night. As we ride along with them, it’s important to never allow ourselves to get too high. We can’t control anything, despite what outcomes we wish for.

Your Saturday Baseball Open Thread

It’s a nice, steamy hot day that feels more like August than it does June.

And my wife has me outside, humping mulch.

There’s some great baseball on tap today, which is one of the many lovely things about Saturday. Everyone is in play. Everyone on your fantasy team is suddenly relevant, unlike Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday where MLB can schedule a ‘light day’ and feed us just two games.

If you need me, I’ll be spreading mulch and pulling weeds. We’re going to see the Columbus Clippers tonight, so all Major League updates for me will come from my smartphone.

Enjoy your Saturday everyone, and I hope you especially enjoyed that picture of Mike Tyson, Darryl Strawberry and Doc Gooden at old Shea Stadium as much as I do.

Baseball Weekend Preview

It’s a Thursday evening and I’m watching a combination of the Miami Heat and Lebron James chasing down their first title (I don’t know why I bothered, thanks for nothing OKC) and the Rays-Nationals tilt. Matt Moore vs. Bryce Harper volume I was rather anti-climatic.

That said, I’ve really come to love Thursday evenings. No matter what you do, it’s basically the unofficial start of the weekend. No matter how late you stay up, you can get through one day of anything pretty tired. Or in my past, pretty hungover. Thursdays are old man Fridays.

Also, I found this little beauty, ‘Let Teddy Win’. It’s simply one of the greatest blogs I’ve visited. It’s quite a little tradition within a tradition they’ve got going on in Washington. Teddy Roosevelt always loses the race. He’s never won one. I imagine there are a fair amount of Teddy fans out there who can relate, including the creator of the aforementioned LTW. If you don’t want to waste some of your day, don’t let yourself stumble upon that site.

Onto the weekend’s festivities.

1) New York Yankees (41-27) at New York Mets (38-32)
I’m sorry to do this, but I have to. ESPN will shove this series down your throat enough on their own, they don’t need my help. But both of these teams are playing pretty well. The Bombers are the toast of baseball right now. The Mets aren’t bad in their own right. Yes, this is the Sunday Night Baseball game of the week. C.C. Sabathia opposes R.A. Dickey in what should be must see TV, especially if you own both of these guys in fantasy baseball like I do.

2) Los Angeles Dodgers (42-28) at Anaheim Angels (38-32)
Sunny California baseball featuring nothing but California teams in this series. It would be a bit more of a jewel if Matt Kemp was trading off innings in center with Mike Trout, but it’s still a nice match-up of teams who have proven they can withstand the poundings of a Major League season. How the heck are the Dodgers continuing to play well? The lineup is barren.

3) Minnesota Twins (27-40) at Cincinnati Reds (38-30)
The last series I remember between these two teams took place at the old Metrodome in Minnesota. It was early June, 2001. I was many Budweisers deep, the Reds were perennial losers and Ken Griffey Jr. was hitting .235 for the year. Well, well, well how the tides have turned my fried cheese curd eating brethren. I expect this to be the series that truly fires up the ‘Fire Ron Gardenhire’ campaign once and for all. As for the Reds; get healthy assholes. That little stunt you pulled in Cleveland caused me to catch a lot of Hell over this. Not to go all Mighty Ducks Coach Jack Reilly on you, but if you don’t win this series no one makes the damn team next year. I’ll cut every one of your sorry asses!

4) Washington Nationals (39-27) at Baltimore Orioles (39-30)
I have a good friend in Rockville, Maryland who fills me in on the area’s rooting interests. These two fan-bases absolutely HATE one another. I don’t know why but every conversation between a Nats fan and an Orioles fan ends up not being a political debate but an argument over whether or not Billy Ripken could beat Ryan Zimmerman’s ass. Both of these teams are pretty good right now. Here’s to a weekend of Mike Morse and Matt Wieters destroying fastballs.

5) Toronto Blue Jays (35-34) at Miami Marlins (33-35)
Miami will be busy buying up all the Heat championship gear their Mastercards can buy, and only about 8,000 of them will turn out to the park each night. But how many series feature two light-tower power stars like Joey Bats and Giancarlo Stanton? Also, could two groups of individuals be any different than South Beachers and Canadians? What do theses people even discuss if forced to sit next to one another on a cross-country flight? My guess is there would be a lot of fighting over the arm rest and some not so accidental spilling of the tomato juice on someone’s lap.

Pitching Match-ups to DVR

Friday:
Jordan Zimmerman vs. Jason Hammel
Tim Lincecum vs. Jarrod Parker (changing of the guard?)
Zach Greinke vs. Chris Sale

Saturday:
Not much to speak of. Should be a homer-heavy Saturday!

Sunday:
C.C. Sabathia vs. R.A. Dickey
David Price vs. Cole Hamels

Video of the Week:

Here’s some poor romantic’s last look at old Tiger Stadium. I am mad that I never got there, but this footage is so good you almost can smell the burning barrels of Motown as you feel the nip off the great lakes. I keep trying to get my buddy to go up to Comerica Park some Saturday so I can cross it off the list. His wife acts like we are trying to schedule a week long trip of sin to Vegas and won’t sign his permission slip. Unbelievable.

I just want to go up to Detroit, see a damn Tigers game and lose some money at the Blackjack tables. Is that too much for a boring, middling-aged man to ask a friend’s wife for? Because if it is I’ll withdraw my request and forget that Detroit even exists. Except during fantasy football season, because Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson really wreck shit on Sundays.

Just watch the video, it’s really cool.

Davey Johnson’s comments confirm he is indeed; a red-assed individual

Not sure if you heard about the whole hullabaloo last night during the Rays-Nationals game in Washington. We had the game on live, and Joel Peralta had just strolled out to pitch the 8th inning in a game the Rays were up 5-4.

That’s when things got hairy. Davey Johnson had prior knowledge of Peralta doctoring his gloves with a foreign substance and had the home-plate umpire go out and shakedown Peralta. Peralta was found to be guilty and promptly ejected. And the poker game continued on into today with Johnson’s quotes, namely his thoughts on Rays manager Joe Maddon.

“I don’t know him that well, but I thought he was a weird wuss anyways.”

Listen to this guy. Calling people ‘weird’. Calling his fellow managers wussies. I love it.

You know what’s even better? We had someone sneak a hidden camera into the Nationals clubhouse a few weeks back. Here’s what we found:

I don’t know Davey Johnson all that well either, but I feel like we had him pegged spot-on a few weeks back when we called him a red ass and said that was the exact reason that we loved the guy.

I also imagine that there are a lot of normal people out there that Davey fails to find the color in and deems them as ‘weird’. He has the temperament of a grandpa that has missed his nap.