An Excellent Chronicle of the Washington Nationals Nightmare Season


It’s funny because a lot of individuals out there who weren’t following along closely are acting like Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper the other day was the end of the Nationals season. The Nationals were of course; already done at that point. The seeds that grew were planted so long ago. As Walter White says early on in Breaking Bad to show future foreshadowing that leads to his fateful collapse; “The reaction, has begun”.

Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post has a really good write up with lots of nuggets and details in between that much of the public was not privy to. It’s a great read.

You read through this article and you suddenly realize; most of the guys in this clubhouse had everything on their minds except winning ballgames. It’s really a great look into the eye of the tiger – and what you see is a bunch of guys worried about their numbers, their contract, their marketability, their image. All led by a manager who was probably the worst in baseball at doing the one thing a manager should do; build a little chemistry and environment and not screw it up too much. What a complete dumpster fire.

And I maintain what I said on twitter the night the Nationals made the move to trade for Jonathan Papelbon. It was the poison pill, the death blow. I told a friend that if I had a team of most hated players in the history of the game, Jonathan Papelbon could be the only guy who would close for that club. What a loser.

You cannot bring back Bryan Price, and the Reds won’t

When Ken Rosenthal reports something, I usually perk up and listen closely. He’s reporting that the Cincinnati Reds are considering bringing back manager Bryan Price in 2016; and I’m telling you right now that it won’t happen because it can’t happen.

This to me has possibly been the worst season in my 32 years of life. It has never really ceased to be depressing and sad and feels like the end of a really nice era. I have really struggled to write about my thoughts on the Reds – watching them for nine innings is enough of a challenge. I mostly want to pretend that they aren’t there. I think that falls at the foot of the manager. This is a business, and he’s fielded a flat team for the entire year. Last year deserved to be thrown out; this year the cement has hardened and you see that Bryan Price is a pitching coach who is in over his head in a managerial role.

The Reds have lost 93 games and it’s going to be a miracle that they didn’t lose 100. I know it’s been a year that has seen them set a record for most pitching starts in a row by a rookie. I know there have been injuries to Mesoraco, Cozart, Homer Bailey, Billy Hamilton and such. I know veterans like Jay Bruce have been numbingly inconsistent once again. But I’ve seen some bad Reds teams in the past – 2003, 2004, and 2005 come to mind – and those teams didn’t feel this lifeless night after night. They also weren’t as talented offensively as this group and yet they still managed their hot streaks. They still managed to score runs. Their rotations were also abhorrent; albeit there were veterans, but it wasn’t this slaughter march we’ve seen from the 2015 Reds.

It’s been a never ending nightmare highlight reel of Bryan Price; from the things you’ve heard about like him berating an annoying beat writer who was just doing his job to getting tossed handing in a lineup card in Cleveland before the game even began. He’s failed to generate any creativity or spark to get this team to go on some type of a run where you say, ‘yes, this guy can figure it out’. This isn’t a guy who leads.

The one caveat in Price returning would be that the Reds would probably keep the core together for one more year, but that is no guarantee. It would probably hold off a full rebuild, which I don’t see happening. I think you’ll see some veterans go with only Votto remaining for certain because he’s been productive and his contract makes him impossible to trade. If the Reds bring back Price, it will be the same brand of uninspired baseball next year that just makes you want to change the channel or do something else. Bryan Price has made me long for the days of Dusty Baker. That’s really tough to do.

On the other hand, if you could land a Barry Larkin who was a rumored candidate, you immediately create a spark and a guy who commands respect from day one. I have no reason to think Larkin would be different than how terrific first year manager Paul Molitor has been in Minnesota. That’s worked out pretty well.

We need new life, we need new blood, we need a change. Another year of Bryan Price will have fans like me feeling sick to my stomach. The Reds’ brass knows that, they’re smart. They have some market research telling them the disapproval rating of their current manager. If it’s nothing more than the many empty Red seats and lack of television viewership, they know. Bryan Price won’t be back in 2015.

“It Gets Late Early Out There”

Yogi Berra

He played his final game some 17 years before I was born, but if you’re going to have a baseball website and you’re going to marry into a Yankees family, you’re going to do a post to bid adieu to the guts and glue of some of the greatest Yankees clubhouses of all time.

Yogi Berra is often remembered for his ‘Yogi-isms’ and everyone loved the guy. He was a great human being by all accounts, an ambassador if you loved baseball. You could not think of Yogi if you knew the game without a fond thought. Lost in all this is that he was a lifetime .285 hitter with a formidable .830 OPS. Pretty good numbers for a guy who caught 1699 games.

And then comes the part where; I married a New Jersey girl. Yogi Berra resided in the town next to where my in-laws live. Many times when I run on the beautiful boardwalk out there, I have my eyes up and I’m looking for Yogi. I’m told he used to take his early morning walks out there and I might see him if I’m alert. I never saw Yogi. But I still felt his heroic presence when I would eat breakfast in many of the Yankee decorated diners out there. He passed away 11 years to the day that I started dating my wife.

One of the greatest Yankees ever is now in the ballpark cathedral in the sky. Rest in Peace Yogi Berra, from 1925 to 2015 you kept it loose.

Last Week’s Friday Night Gentleman’s Game was decided in Dramatic Fashion

Screen Shot 2015-09-26 at 9.26.25 AM

Well, well, well. Who knew that Carlos Carrasco could be so much damn fun? Two gentleman, that’s who. They go by the names of DStars45, and Swindaman3. And they’re the stars of the 2015 Gentleman’s game because they make the bold calls. They’re good under pressure. They can probably drive their vehicles through rush hour with their knees on the way home from work… all while setting their gentleman’s game lineup. They make the bold calls with the chips in the middle of the table. Calls like using Carlos “Jekyll and Hyde” Carrasco against the DFS kill your pitcher buzz-saw that is the Kansas City Royals.

Now one caveat would have been that the game was in Kansas City, which suppresses offense. The other side of that is when you trust a player who wears a Cleveland uniform in any sport, it typically ends badly. These two brave warriors were rewarded with the first and second places in the Friday night game and will enter this Friday, the Gentleman’s Game Final with a chance to become the Gentleman of the Year.

We’ve had calls from different sponsors inquiring about doing a deal with the winner of this eventual title. Nothing is set in stone at this point, but the man who wins this contest stands to win a lifetime of fame and riches if they can come up with a big performance Friday night.

Swindaman3 was incredibly heroic, winning the Friday night game by a mere .15; the closest finish between first and second in the illustrious history of the contest.

A look at the standings reveals what is needed for each gent, and what is at stake. The bottom feeding gentleman will not merely look to just stay out of the basement and not finish last but to play spoiler for the likes of Swindaman3. It is here that past vengeances could be sought out. It is here that lifelong friendships are made, and lifelong foes are adopted.

Yearly Standings:
DStars45 – 80.5 Points
Swindaman3 – 76.5 points
t3bird04 – 68 Points
Jsquad34 – 68 Points
Diamondhoggers – 67 points

And here is a look at the winning lineup by Swindaman3. All joking aside, it really was a clutch performance. Look at him using Tyler Flowers AND Travis Shaw there. Look at him getting underpriced Mike Trout into the mix along with Sexi Alexei. Who would have had the guts to use Sonny Gray as bad as he’s been this last month plus against the NL version of the Royals; the Giants? Swindaman3, that’s who.

This is why he is in this position, and three other gents are not. He must hope for a last place finish from DStars45 and he must win first place next week. His pursuit of first place has been one of the most courageous acts ever seen in the fantasy realm, daily or otherwise.

“You really don’t know pressure in life until you’ve had your back to the wall in the Gentleman’s Game,” said an exhausted Swindaman3 on Sunday night from his home. “I don’t know what I’ll go with on Friday night, but I hope most of DStars45’s players get rained out”.

Screen Shot 2015-09-26 at 9.26.33 AM

So we ask for the final time in 2015…. what will happen next week? Will T3bird rise up and kamikaze Mr. Swindaman’s hopes through the branches?  Will any gent decide to use Kelby Tomlinson if he’s there and in the lineup for 2000? Or how about the fierce battle between diamondhoggers and JSquad34 to not get last place? Will Dstars45 put together a fourth place or better lineup to secure the first Gentleman’s game title, and all the prize money and endorsements that comes with it?


The Chicago Cubs are in the Postseason


Here’s something that is good for baseball: the Chicago Cubs will be part of the MLB postseason. The Cubs are in the playoffs for the first time since way back when we basically started this blog, 2008.

The Cubs got in the playoffs even losing yesterday with the Giants losing to the Oakland Athletics. And this is great, because really I could not stand another year of the Giants getting their boring roster group into October and forcing me to watch three series of it.

The Cubbies are going to be our playoff horse we think. We would still really like to see the Angels weasel in in the American League. But overall, this is really good for baseball and we felt from the onset of the year that the Cubs would be left standing when the dust settled.

Now you just have to hope they get through the Wildcard game (sorry Pirates fans) and bring a long series or two to that historic cathedral Wrigley Field. It would be fun to watch this young group of players try to break the curse of the Billy Goat. Plus, Anthony Rizzo.

Your Saturday Baseball Post


This is the final Saturday before the last Saturday of the MLB regular season. In some ways it’s so hard to fathom. The baseball season has been a blast, seeming like it’s been just a few weeks long. In other ways you think back to some stuff going on in your life in April, and you think it was two seasons ago. It’s been the best of times, it’s been the worst of times.

Overall though, we would prefer that it not end. There’s just something magical that comes with a full slate of games and every team in play on a Saturday. It stinks to think about not having that until next spring.

We’re also at that weird part in the season where you get two teams playing for absolutely nothing and you know it’s a formality and they’re playing simply because it’s on the schedule. And it’s at those times that you get some really weird and unpredictable outcomes.

We implore you to enjoy your Saturday, and enjoy this final week of baseball. Pull out all the stops in fantasy baseball to get the finish you desire and what you’ve worked all season for.

Your 80’s song of the week that should be played on a ballpark loudspeaker at a park near you is Chicago, from 1988. Look away, baby look away:

Enjoy your Saturday all, and thank you for your continued support of Diamond Hoggers.

Betting on Baseball 9/23

huell money breaking bad

Welcome to your Wednesday edition of Betting on Baseball. Whether you like to wager with your local and keep it secret from your wife, or bet sportsbook dollars; hopefully our picks will keep you in the green.

The pick for tonight’s game hails to us from the Western coast, where Bruce Bochy’s pesky Giants head to San Diego to take on the Padres and Pat Murphy (you didn’t know off the top of your head Pat Murphy managed them).

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 8.02.08 PM

The Giants are a slight underdog tonight, checking in at a Vegas consensus +100. Andrew Cashner is 6-15 this season with a 4.25 ERA. He’s managed to stay healthy all year finally but it hasn’t gelled for the troll looking young man. He was knocked around in 4 and 2/3 by these very same Giants on September 11th for nine hits and five earned runs. Opposing him is Jake Peavy, who is 7-6 with a bit more respectable 4.08 ERA.

We know from our time in Daily Fantasy Baseball that no one in all of baseball can chew up mediocre starting pitcher like the Giants; with the possible exception of their AL Dopplegänger, the Royals. Next in line would fall the Cardinals but they are a much weaker version of these two mentioned foes.

One team is 11 games under .500 with a superior starting pitcher. The other is eight games over, with still a slight bit to play for. Yes, the game is in San Diego; but at this discount you can feel comfortable laying your money on the Giants at absolute even money.

Bet the San Francisco Giants at +100 and make yourself a little fun money. In a one-run low scoring game which this is likely to be in spite of Cashner; Bochy will have his guys in the right spot or utilize his bench just a smidgen better than comrade, Pat Murphy.

Bryce Harper homers for the 41st time in 2015


[Nationals 5, Marlins 2]

Bryce Harper took a thunderous cut, and if you watch the pitcher after this swing, he knew he had just made a fatal mistake that he would not live to tell about again on this day. It landed in the deck above the right field bullpen at Nationals park, Harper’s 41st home run of his incredible age-22 season.

He’s hitting .340 on the year with a 9.4 fWAR. His OPS is 1.138. If Harper never again replicates a season like this, it’s been one of legendary stature and he’s went out and showed out in 2015. He’s a home run behind Nelson Cruz and Chris Davis for the MLB lead.

T3Bird04 Flies to the Top of a Sluggish Friday Night Football Gentleman’s Game

Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 11.49.19 AM

There is just one Gentleman’s game remaining this season.

Some things would seem to be decided, with DStars45 holding down things in the top spot even with a tough Friday night. But hold on a second. I am told that the Gentleman’s Game competition committee is discussing a wrinkle in the contest that would allow for point values to be doubled in the final week, or a possible twi-night double header; making much up for grabs. Yes, you heard that right. It is possible the Gentleman’s Cup champion to come down to the final week.

As for this past week’s contest, it was as sluggish as it seemed. With football in play and fall activities to be done in life, you’ll have nights where the Gentleman come out a little bit subpar. We will need to check with the Elias Sports Bureau, but we believe it to be the first Gentleman’s Game in which there was no member to reach 100 total points.

T3Bird04 was the victor last night, pulling out all the stops with home runs from Justin Smoak and Khris Davis, and solid enough performances from Madison Bumgarner and Max Scherzer.

It just wasn’t a night where you needed a lot from your bats as long as you collected two quality starts, and the bird was indeed the word.

Here’s a look at the yearly standings:

Yearly Standings:
DStars45 – 76.5 Points
Swindaman3 – 71.5 points
t3bird04 – 67 Points
Diamondhoggers – 65 points
Jsquad34 – 65 Points

And now a look at the magic potion that T3bird04 used to foil the other gents:


Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 11.49.42 AM

BUT…. what will happen next week? We are not done yet as there is one weekend of baseball remaining. And like true gentleman, we will see this party through until the final light switch has been turned off.

Your Saturday Baseball Post


It’s both depressing and hard to believe that the baseball regular season is down to just two more Saturdays. Teams are still jostling for position, and soon we’ll have our playoff dance card all filled out.

Try to soak in the action these last couple of weeks, because soon enough there will be leaves on the ground and just a half dozen teams in play, and then down to that one game a night scenario when it’s two teams you may not care about but you watch just because you love the game.

And if you’re battling for your life in a few fantasy leagues, good luck. Go down shooting!

For your Saturday afternoon 80’s song of the week that should be played on a ballpark loudspeaker near you; we’ve got a little Dan Hartman from 1984 for you. From the album Streets of Fire. You’ve probably heard this one sitting in your dentist’s chair once or twice.

Enjoy your Saturday everyone. Thank you for your continued support of Diamond Hoggers and the sport of baseball!

Betting on Baseball Friday

Vegas _0

It’s late in the year, but there’s still opportunity. Opportunity to find something that matters in the game of baseball that makes it an event for a team that is seemingly playing out the string. You must find a game that stands out, allowing you to make sports predictions.

We have a good spot tonight for one of these games. A game that won’t get a lot of attention because it’s between two poor teams. But when you have a nice lean because you think that it’s an event within a particular organization, it allows you to make accurate baseball predictions.

Brandon Finnegan is the centerpiece the Cincinnati Reds acquired in the Johnny Cueto trade. We’ve already seen them trot John Lamb out front and center to get him exposure as a starter. They’ve now transitioned Finnegan; who was in the Royals pen down the stretch last season leading to their World Series run, to being a starting pitcher. He’ll make his first career start in Milwaukee tonight against the Brewers opposing right hander Zach Davies.

The Reds are a Vegas consensus slight underdog right now (+103). It’s been a long season, but Finnegan will throw well tonight and give the Reds a slight uptick in their long season; a season that has seen them set a Major League record for most consecutive starts by a rookie pitcher; a record that continues this evening.

Take the Cincinnati Reds +103 tonight in Milwaukee.


Bryce Harper joins the 40 home run club

[Box Score]

Bryce Harper made history this evening in Philadelphia with his FOURTH home run of a three game series. It’s the first 40 home run season of his career at age 22. It’s pretty neat to have seen hime evolve as the kid on the cover of Sports Illustrated to overcome some of the frustrating struggles of his first two seasons, and now into the 40 home run monster and league MVP he has become.

The blast was a long titanic clout pop fly to right center.

So the next milestone would be a 10 fWAR season. Can he get there? We like his odds.

Bryce Harper hits home runs 38 and 39 in Philadelphia


[Box Score]

Bryce Harper is homering at a rate that we can barely keep up with the posts. On Tuesday evening in Philadelphia, he again homered twice in a Stephen Strasburgh 14-strikeout, one-hit performance. He drove in all four runs on the night.

The first home run was a pretty incredible display of power. A poor schlup named David Buchanan thew behind Harper, and then two pitches later decided to hang a curve ball. That landed in the center field seats over the 408 sign.

The second home run was equally impressive; it was a long high fly ball that just kept carrying to the opposite field off a lefty.

Home Run #38

Home Run #39

It sure is nice of the Phillies to keep challenging Harper and serving these up nightly.

Bryce Harper shook off the ill-effects of a maybe concussion to homer in Philadelphia


[Box Score]

It’s a damn shame that the Nationals have nothing left to play for except for pride and their numbers. They’ve managed to squander a legendary season from the 22 year old wunderkind from Nevada.

Last night, in an 8-7 win in Philadelphia, he added young Aaron Nola to his list of big game pelts:

This was after leaving Sunday’s game with an odd-concussion like ailment. He’s up to an 8.7 fWAR on the season, with 106 runs scored, 37 home runs, a .333 average, 86 RBI, and a ridiculous .464 on-base average.