Category Archives: Postseason

‘She is Gone!’ happened 25 Years ago Today

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I realized this while catching up on some baseball-related reading at work, but the Kirk Gibson homer took place 25 years ago today in Los Angeles. Tell me that doesn’t bode well for the Dodgers fortunes tonight.

Don’t forget (no one is forgetting) that the bomb came off Dennis Eckersley. That is really about as big league as it gets – hitting a game winning shot off the bench with one leg off one of the greatest closers of all-time.

Here’s the box score from that legendary game. It was a Saturday night in Los Angeles. I was yet to turn six years old. I was about two to three years away from becoming bonkers about this sport I write about each day. I wonder what I was up to that night. I wonder about the partying the Dodgers fans did that glorious night back in ’88 at the conclusion of that game. After all, it was the 80′s, and the world was a lot more simple 25 years ago. Jose Canseco homered in that game, but fate would have it as Gibson is the guy we’re writing about 25 years later (and for good reason).

You can’t stop time in life. You can never go back. All you have once the moment is gone is a memory, and if it’s special enough it lives on forever. This is the moment that baseball fans from this era seem to remember above all others.

2013 MLB Playoff Predictions

National League Wild Card Game:
Pittsburgh over Cincinnati

American League Wild Card Game:
Tampa Bay over Cleveland

National League Division Series:
St. Louis over Pittsburgh (4 games)
Los Angeles over Atlanta (5 games)

American League Division Series:
Detroit over Oakland (4 games)
Boston over Tampa Bay (5 games)

NLCS:
Los Angeles over St. Louis (6 games)
Boston over Detroit (7 games)

World Series:
Los Angeles over Boston (6 games)

Unchartered Territory: Reds win NLDS Game Two, Take 2-0 Series Lead

[NLDS Game Two Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com]

The Cincinnati Reds are locked in.

That was as good as you can see Bronson Arroyo look. It was his crowning moment in his Reds career. Maybe except for this commercial that I caught last night shortly after Cincinnati grabbed a 1-0 lead on Ryan Ludwick’s solo home run:

The Reds continued to play sound defense and add-on in the top frames until the game was through.

As we sit here on the eve of only the second postseason baseball game in Cincinnati in 17+ years, I hope the Reds realize they haven’t won anything yet. I hope they realize that the journey is still long. Two wins out West is very special, and it’s the hallmark of a team that means business. But the Giants could easily come back and win this series. This was just the first two dominoes that needed to fall in order to do something in this postseason. If the Reds come out flat tomorrow night, things can snowball in a hurry and this can quickly become the worst dogfight they’ve ever been involved in.

If you want my opinion, the Reds get the match-up they need tomorrow night. I don’t want them to face Matt Cain again. And I still think they’re damn lucky to have had such an easy time with Madison Bumgarner (though I’ll say it’s a misconception that I fall victim to in thinking that this roster of Reds struggles against LHP).

Tomorrow around dinner time, the Reds will face Ryan Vogelsong. He’s a good, solid big league starter. But he’s the kind of righty that the Reds should want to advance against in that park. He’s not Matt Cain, and he’s not Bumgarner.

Go ahead and move on in front of your fans on Tuesday night boys, and let the Cardinals and Nationals slug things out for a few more days. I have to admit, I want the Reds to just keep playing at this point. The worst thing that could happen was to give them a day off and a day to even think about what they’re doing. They’re going so good right now that you just hope they can get back out there on a diamond as soon as possible and keep rolling.

Part of how this team has already been able to do what they’re doing is I don’t even think they realize fully what they’re doing. They’re like a fearless teenager who takes a lot of risks because they don’t know how fragile life is at that age; the Reds still don’t grasp how delicate every single moment is in this postseason. And that allows them to be dangerous in this situation.

Tomorrow I’ll come home from work. I’ll slip on the #32 Bruce jersey (he got another big knock last night). I’ll hopefully see my team advance to the NLCS, making the vision I had back in 2010 the night we were eliminated from the NLDS a reality. To this point, I could not be more proud of how they’ve performed. I can’t even believe this is really happening.

2012 NLDS San Francisco Giants vs. Cincinnati Reds Preview Post (and Prediction)

A series this important and monumental for my favorite professional sports franchise leaves me struggling to find the words on the eve of it’s beginning.

There isn’t enough I can say about the 2012 Cincinnati Reds or the special place that they hold in my heart. When this season began, I had a vision that this team’s destiny ended up somewhere in the NLCS. I didn’t know what it held from it’s beginning to it’s end, but it’s one of those visions I’ve rarely had in all of my life watching sports. It came to me originally in the 2010 NLDS, it was the 6th or 7th inning. I knew that door was closing. But I knew if I could just live long enough the Reds would be back and they would make a run. I knew 2012 was that year.

This post is more about their opponent that stands in their way. Based on a few factors, the Giants are the toughest opponent that the Reds could have drawn to open up their postseason. After the initial reaction which was fear came some acceptance on my behalf. Then came the simple fact that if this team is going to win the National League pennant, there shouldn’t be any desires for them to dodge anyone. Lay it all on the line and carve out your legacy. Go through an NL West team. Be the team that knocks off the recent World Champions.

I know these guys know what’s at stake; and I know they’re going to fight hard. There are certain things I have gut feelings about in this series. I would bet my life that the Reds don’t get swept. Not this time. I would also wager that the Reds are confident in winning this series. They aren’t scared. They think they’re the NL’s best team. I have a feeling Joey Votto hits two home runs at some point in this series in the same game. If the Reds lose, I predict that Dusty Baker will retire with the looming health problems and tepid contract situation on the forefront.

If the Reds can find a way to get through Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey, Hunter Pence and company; I predict they’ll represent the National League in the World Series. No one else would be a tougher opponent for the Reds. There are no West Coast trips remaining in the rest possible paths to the pennant. This is the biggest obstacle, and the way through it must be passed first.

But there was something else about my vision of the Reds magical run; and I need to mention that they were probably baseball’s best and most balanced team in the 2012 regular season. If it does end here, we’ve been given a great team that I just knew would deliver up to this point.

The other part of the vision that I had–and I don’t know why–was the Reds season ending at the hands of an NL West team. I felt strongly about it.

I love this team and I’m so proud of them. I’ll lose a part of me during this series win or lose. I know they’re going to fight like Hell to advance. I think we’re in for the ride of our lives these next few days, and if the journey doesn’t end prematurely; some doors will open up with illusions we could only dream of behind them.

Enjoy this series Reds fans. When Johnny Cueto throws the first pitch tomorrow evening, it will have been exactly 18 years to the date since the Reds have won a postseason game. Think about that for a moment. It has spanned careers, lifetimes, relationships, hallmark events in your life.

My heart says one thing, while my head as a baseball fan says another. I’m going with what my head tells me on this.

Prediction: San Francisco Giants over Cincinnati Reds in Five Games

Wild Card Friday (& Predictions)

For the first time in the history of this blog (and the sport in general), the postseason kicks off with two Wildcard teams playing a one game play-in the day before the real deal gets going.

National League: St. Louis Cardinals at Atlanta Braves

The last time Fredi Gonzalez was in this situation, he didn’t fare so well. He’s not a good manager, and his immensely talented team has brought him back for a chance at redemption despite his attempts to sabotage them all. It’s a testament to the winning culture in Atlanta, and the fact that they want to send their strong leader Chipper Jones out as he deserves; a winner.

The Cardinals had enough magic last season to last them a lifetime. If you were like us, you waited all season long for a Cardinals run that never really came. We have no doubts that the Cardinals will have some great runs in the future under Mike Matheny, and this season was a nice start to his managerial career. But these Cardinals are not made with the same ingredients that made them great at this time last year. They just aren’t.

They’ve still got the ability to score and knock down fences with the best of them, but there’s some smoke and mirrors within their starting rotation. Adam Wainwright has a lot of mileage on his arm, Chris Carpenter missed most of the season, and the wildcard game starter Kyle Lohse had a career year that seems to be an anomaly more than a constant.

The baseball gods will allow the Braves to extract some sweet revenge on the team that stole their spot like a thief in the night a year ago. Fredi and the Braves will win tomorrow night in Atlanta and give Chipper Jones one final crack at a ring that has eluded him since 1995. The Cardinals season ends tomorrow.

Prediction: Braves over Cardinals

American League: Baltimore Orioles at Texas Rangers

My goodness we love Ron Washington. His speech to his troops before World Series game seven last postseason is the thing that legends are made of. And how about those tricky Orioles? Who in their right mind had Buck Showalter and the Orioles here at this point? No one. Not a damn person outside the Baltimore fan base, and if you try to tell me otherwise you’re lying.

The Orioles have strung together a rag-tag bunch that includes Mark Reynolds, Robert Andino, Nate McLouth, and Chris Davis. Of course they’ll go to the Hellhouse that is the Ballpark in Arlington, to face all of those terrifying hitters and F-bomb dropping Ron Washington and they’ll start a pitcher (Joe Saunders) who I would consider waiver wire garbage. Were they trolling late-night for catfish the night that they found Saunders? He started seven games for the Orioles this season. They haven’t a season like this since I was still searching for my first kiss. And they’re going to let Joe Saunders decide their season? This is who you throw out there to decide the biggest game this team has played in decades? That’s TV I’ve got to see.

But you know what? The baseball gods are a funny thing.

Here are teams on the opposite side of the spectrum. One team is littered with superstars, while the other just appears littered. The Rangers will throw their high-dollar import special Yu Darvish to oppose Saunders. The Rangers have about as much postseason experience up and down the roster as anyone in the field this year. The Orioles have little to none.

Everyone in the world will pick the Rangers tomorrow night. It would probably make sense to do the same. But something in my gut tells me that this Texas team has learned the just how long and impossible the journey seems. They’re jaded. They dropped the World Series two years ago. Last year they climbed back up that tall hill only to see it slip away in the most gut-wrenching fashion possible in sports. If that wasn’t enough to kill the spirits of this team, getting caught by the Oakland Athletics and losing the division title after leading the way for 99% of the season has destroyed this team’s inner conscious. I’m telling you that they’re mentally cooked.

Look back at the other side now, those tricky Orioles. They don’t know what they’re about to embark upon. They haven’t been here. They can say ‘who gives a shit, the whole damn season has been crazy anyways’. They have been starting Mark Reynolds the last few seasons. What do they care? Here’s a situation where I think lack of experience helps a team. In this one game scenario, they can catch some lightning in a bottle because they aren’t able to fully grasp the moment. All the pressure in the world is on our beloved Ron Washington and his Cocaine Cowboys of the West.

Most of all, in this life when everything seems so certain; it isn’t at all. Go the other way with the pick that everyone will go one way with. When they zig, you zag.

Prediction: Orioles over Rangers

I’m actually pulling for the Yankees tonight

I’ve definitely got reason to root against the Yankees tonight. I mean, New Yorkers are really a loud, brash, cocky breed of fan. My roomate, teammate, and probably my best friend from early on in my college career; George, was a big Yankees fan. I watched the entire 2001 and 2002 postseason with him. He changed my mind about Yankees fans, at least for a short period in my life.

I was the best man in his wedding back in 2009. To the outsider–it was that postseason when A-Rod went off. In fact he hit a dramatic home run the night of his wedding. What a great feeling that must have been for my lucky friend huh?

Well shortly after his wedding–of which I delivered a best man speech at–my friend disowned me. For no reason at all. The true reason was his new wife didn’t really like me and he lost his damn mind. That’s really all I can figure. At that point, I figured that every time the Yankees lost it was a good night for me because I knew that somewhere in this world my fraud of a friend might be distraught about it out in his new whine & cheese lifestyle of a world in Connecticut. That’s if, he could ask for his wife for his nuts back long enough to check the box score the morning after. I assume he stopped watching baseball altogether. He probably spends his days and nights buying her flowers or fancy chocolates and disowning other friends she doesn’t like.

But if he’s out there and he has her permission to watch television on his own for a little bit tonight, he’ll be tuning in to the game. And as fun as the thought is of his agony if they get pounded tonight–he would get over it. Because baseball isn’t that important to him anymore. Things that were important to the friend and teammate I knew now play second fiddle to his mean wife and his bullshit house and pets.

Wouldn’t you know three years after I met George, I met the girl I would marry. And as my damned luck would have it–Yankees fan. First line she ever said to me was about the Yankees. Her brothers love the Yankees. They’ll be in New Yankee Stadium tonight. Her best friends mostly love the Yankees. Again–they’re going to the game tonight. My father-in-law? Asks me my thoughts on the Yankees in whatever series they’re in before he asks me how work is going. Or how his daugther is doing.

So I realize, there’s enough people I love in my life right now who love the Yankees that sure; I’ll pull for your damn Bronx Bombers. Whether it’s negative or positive interest that I have in them, there’s always interest. They interest me more than the Tigers–minus that little chain-smoking managerial ball of perfection that they have standing on the top stoop.

They’ve got Doug Fister opposing them tonight. He’s been lights out scary good since becoming a Tiger. Hell, I might even say this guy will contend for 20 wins next year. He was a scrub for the Mariners. He’s definitely figured it out. I have a feeling that he is the story of tonight’s game when the dust settles. Let’s just call it a gut feeling.

George if you’re out there and you see this post, I still have your shoes that I thought I would someday get to return to you when I saw you again. In fact I’m wearing them at work right now while I write this post. They look older now and are stretched out because my feet were always a half size bigger than yours. You missed my wedding, you missed the birth of my child (we bought a puppy but close enough), you didn’t call on my birthday. I know your wench of a wife hates me but I hope your Bombers win tonight old buddy. But it’s not because of you.

Go Yankees.

The D-Backs Win in a Wild One, Force Game Five

I haven’t taken the time to sit through an entire 9 innings yet this postseason. Things in life just seem to get in the way. Now relax, I’m not guilty like some of my peers that tell me they haven’t watched any playoff baseball. I would never be that guy. But life has been getting busy on me.

So last night I decided I wasn’t going to miss any of the Arizona/Milwaukee game. I grabbed my puppy and let the little tike sleep on my shoulder and watched nearly every pitch. After all, the D-backs are my playoff horse. I needed to will them on to victory. And the scrappy-ass little Arizona DiamondBacks came through for me by winning 10-6 in front of their home fans and forcing game five in Milwaukee on early Friday evening.

The game got off to a wild start with Joe Saunders giving up a run in the top of the first inning and then the D-backs responding back to put five on the Brewers in the bottom of the frame. Ryan Roberts hit a grand slam and then Chris Young got one to fly out.

I had worries that Arizona would take their foot off the gas. They’re young, and relatively inexperienced. But they didn’t stop grinding. Milwaukee would cut the lead to 5-3. But then a guy named Collin Cowgill would add a pinch-hit two run single to make the score 7-3.

The entire state of Arizona thought this game was going to be tied 7-7 when Corey Hart hit a ball to the track with the bases loaded that somehow Gerardo Parra ran down on the track in left center field. When Hart connected, I even said out loud “oh no, he got it”. He didn’t get it.

Arizona wouldn’t cast any doubt in our minds from that point on. The ball was flying out last night. The organ was magical. The D-backs were victorious. They’ll either go on to the NLCS or win their final game in front of their home fans.

Kirk Gibson’s boys delivered in giving us a third game five in the NLDS. The rest of America should realize that this roster set is a group of ‘guys’ that just seemed to gel and will never do this again. For that reason alone (and the incessant man-love for Justin Upton that I have) I want this team to knock off a seemingly loaded Milwaukee team on Friday night.

[Box Score]

Dancing in the Dark (Bruce Springsteen) Played on Chase Field Organ

Listen very closely here. The music being played by the organist at Chase Field during this first inning pitching visit in Game 4 of the NLDS is Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark.

That’s as classic as classic can get right there. The Boss, played in Arizona during a playoff game; on an organ. If I didn’t have D-Back playoff fever before, I’ve definitely got it now.

Paul Goldschmidt is earning Quite a Reputation in these parts

Our boys over at the Golden Sombrero have created a nickname for the D-Backs first baseman that trumps our short lived “Big Hit” Goldschmidt that we gave him this morning while having coffee.

Ladies and gentleman of the free world, meet Paul Goldschmidt: Bear Jew.

It’s pretty much the greatest thing ever created on this planet. If Goldschmidt doesn’t hit the postseason granny last night, Bear Jew is probably never born. I don’t think these players realize how important it is to their legacies to reach the postseason.

National League Division Series Wednesday

Paul “Big Hit” Goldschmidt and the Arizona D-Backs got a big 8-1 win against the Milwaukee Brewers yesterday in game three of the NLDS. The Cardinals dropped their game in St. Louis 3-2 to the Phillies. Both series are now at 2 game to 1 and we’ve got some big time baseball on television tonight and both will be ‘elimination games’ for Arizona and St. Louis.

If you’re a baseball fan outside of Philly or Milwaukee you’re pulling for a couple of game fives, I would think.

The Yankees did their part last night in giving us at least one game five of this first round–and now you we’ll have a chance for three. Now one thing to worry about is that these NLDS possible game 5′s would take place on Friday night. And my wife is really good at arranging plans on Fridays so there is a remote possibility that I would see absolutely none of either game. Or just the tail end of the second game when Philly is crushing St. Louis and Milwaukee has already won.

But let’s just worry about first things first here. We hope the D-Backs and Cardinals handle their business tonight and provide the sport with some fall drama beyond what will go down at New Yankee Stadium tomorrow evening.

My 2011 ALDS & NLDS Predictions Post

Arizona DiamondBacks vs. Milwaukee Brewers

Diamond Hoggers’ Prediction: D-Backs over Brewers in 5

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Philadelphia Phillies

Diamond Hoggers’ Prediction: Phillies over Cardinals in 4

 

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Texas Rangers

Diamond Hoggers’ Prediction: Rays over Rangers in 4
Detroit Tigers vs. New York Yankees

Diamond Hoggers’ Prediction: Tigers over Yankees in 5

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.

Reds no-hit in historic NLDS Game 1 vs. Philadelphia

The Reds postseason drought is over, but it seems like you can barely count this game as ending much of a drought.

Roy Halladay was a Jay Bruce walk away from going 27 up, and 27 down. I could do like I usually do and post all kinds of links, and even in a regular loss I would have done that. But I’m not going to do that.

I have no problem in saying it was one of the finest performances I’ve ever seen on the pitchers mound. It came against my favorite team, in the postseason. There’s not a lot else you can say. I’m not going to hang my head, and I’m not going to act like it’s more than it was. It was one game to begin a postseason series.

I still love my boys. This is part of the journey. There will be brighter days. I know from my time playing this great game that this happens on a given day. They went up against a guy throwing 6 or 7 pitches for strikes on both sides of the plate. There isn’t a lot you can do and your chances are mathematically eliminated when a guy doesn’t make a mistake.


There are a lot of songs I thought of that fit for this team after game one. I almost went with REO Speedwagon, but I’ll probably save that for elimination. This Blink 182 song really fits well with where this young Reds team is at. This is all part of the big picture. This was part of destiny. There will be a brighter day. This taught some of these young guys a lesson to witness it and be part of it. But there will be a brighter day.