Friday, October 28, 2022

Marco's Baseball Blog-O-Roonie 2022: GREAT QUOTATIONS


Marco’s Baseball Blog-O-Roonie 2022: “Great Quotations”

A captured and wounded Union officer at the 2nd Battle of Manassas was lying down amidst his Southern captors when the famous Rebel general Stonewall Jackson rode by on his dappled horse with his battered campaign hat. The Yankee asked his guards to lift him to a seated position so he could get a look at this terror of war. When he saw the dour Jackson pass by, the Yankee soldier groaned and said:

O Lord, Just Lay me Down!”

The Rebel soldiers watching this interplay found this remark quite humorous and for many months afterwards whenever some new horror was visited upon them in that terrible war, they would respond with this sincere plea to their Maker: “O Lord, Just Lay Me Down!”

I Hereby dedicate this quotation to the Playoff Losers of MLB 2022.

The current baseball tournament is not a war...just an entertainment with some of the wins and grievous losses of war imitated in sporting metaphor with much wailing and gnashing of teeth. But for the suffering supporters of teams like the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers, the gnashing is audible and the wailing is loud and clear.

Another quote that describes the stark realities of here today/gone tomorrow playoff series was spoken by the longtime coach of the Showtime Los Angeles Lakers of the ‘80s, Pat Riley, who once said “There is only Winning... and Misery.”

Here is the current list of Les Miserables:

Los Angeles Dodgers...removed from the Playoffs in a 3 game out of 4 wipeout courtesy of their red-headed step children, the long suffering San Diego Padres. Done in most likely by 5 off days that ruined the timing of their hitters, and for some reason, left them with no viable starters after Kershaw and Urias , forcing them to announce a bullpen game in the crucial 3rd playoff game in San Diego.

The Dodgers won 111 games in the 2022 regular season, including a 14-4 record against the Padrinos. They got beat by, largely, the bottom of the Padre’s lineup: Grisham, Nola and Cronenworth. This unsung trio got 15 hits and 9 RBIs in 4 games.

Atlanta Braves...last year’s champions came from 11 games back to run down the Mets in the last week of the regular season. Their shortstop Dansby Swanson and first baseman Matt Olson were hot down the stretch, hitting lots of big flies to crush the oppo. They earned their 5 days off ...but they wish they didn’t take them. Only the memory of an offense was left to deal with Philly, which quickly adjusted to Playoff every-day-play and beat the Braves easily.

(Do you sense a trend here? Let me spell it out for days benefit pitchers if it’s no more than six or seven. Hitters need to hit every day against game pitching, not nerf ball batting practice. If your timing is off even a little bit you don’t get the fat bat on the little white orb.)

More misery. The New York Mets expected to do well in the playoffs behind their two starters Scherzer and deGrom...Unh-Unh. DeGrom pitched well but Scherzer never had it. San Diego dismissed the Metskis in a 3 game wipeout.

The St. Louis Cardinals were the winners of the Central and got to play the last team into the Wild Card slot, the Philadelphia Phillies.

Gee! Thanks a lot! The Cardinal bats were slumping going into the Playoffs and they weren’t certain of their starting rotation. Zach Wheeler of the Phillies (best pitcher in the Playoffs so far) shut them out for 6 innings but the Cards rallied for 2 runs going into the ninth. The Phils surprised them with 6 runs in the ninth. Juan Segura got the big hit...a pool cue off the end of the bat that skittered into right center for a two run back breaker.

No way the Cardinals were going to come back after that. They got pulverized in Game 2. The only proud moment for the Redbirds was Albert Pujols getting a base hit in his (probable) last at bat of his great career.

The Phils had two good starters and three good relievers and a productive and opportunistic offense. That’s the formula. Their big bats performed. Their big arms performed.

The games between the Phils and the Padres were actually very good. Harper, Hoskins and Schwarber had just a little stronger mojo than Soto, Machado and Cronenworth. Bryce Harper finally lived up to his reputation as a superstar with an epic blast into the opposite field bleachers in front of his adoring fans. Congrats to him...he earned the MVP for that series...and especially for the timing of his big hit.

I don’t count the Padres as one of Les Miserables because they beat the Dodgers, who’d had their knees on the Padre necks for decades. The Pads found something stirring in the heart of their team too. They will be good. Maybe very good.

Soto got criticized for not producing in quite an awesome-like manner but truthfully, what is reasonable? Soto hit a couple of big homers in the series and a double as well. He struck out a lot but who didn’t in this new whiffle bat baseball world? Fans forget that you could have a lineup of Ted Williams, Rod Carew, George Brett, Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn and Ichiro Suzuki and they’d still make outs 3 out of every 5 times they came up to the plate.

We were lucky in these Playoffs to have two all-time highlight reel home runs. Harper’s of course in the 5th game of the NLCS and an even more startling one in Game 1 of the Astros vs. Seattle. I smelled that one coming as soon as Seattle manager Scott Servais put Robbie Ray into the game to face Yordan Alvarez.

With two men on and a two run lead he knew he’d get crucified if Yordan went deep on a rightie. But he was gambling with a pitcher who HAD NEVER EVER COME OUT OF THE BULLPEN IN A MAJOR LEAGUE GAME! And leftie Ray had been lit up last time he faced hitters in the playoffs and pretty much all of the second half of the season. His velocity was down and he’d been giving up the long ball. The long ball was most desperately to be avoided with a 2-run lead with two on in the bottom of the ninth!

First pitch: medium slider on the outside corner. Yordan scorched it foul. Very close to hitting it out to left. That foul ball had burn marks on it. Second pitch: Ray tried to come inside and wound up throwing a nothing burger that leaked over the plate. KABOOMPOWZAP...GONE! Yordan just utterly smashed that ball. That ball will have permanent Brain Fog. It was a Zeus’s thunderbolt kind of a hit and won the game for the Astros.

(Kind of a mirror of the Phillies win in their Game 5 of the Padres series. Harper comes up with two on in the eighth with the Padres ahead by 2 and Josh Heder in the bullpen. But Bob Melvin leaves his rightie set up reliever in to face Harper instead of calling on the leftie because he didn’t want to have to let Heder stay in and have to get 5 outs to win this game. Melvin was trying to finesse his way out of that Big Moment. He blew it. Heder is the best leftie reliever in baseball...if you didn’t trade for him to use him in this spot against the hottest hitter in the Playoffs, who are you saving him for?)

Back to the Astros. They won Game 2 with Yordan as well. This time the Big Man sliced one into the Crawfords for another Golden Tater. Yordan didn’t get a lot of hits in this series, but he picked his spots well, I’d say.

The less said about that endless, boring 18 inning Ji-gazz-ma-thon in Seattle the better. Astros win again and have yet to lose a playoff game.

The Yankees join their partners in misery only because expectations are so ridiculously high for the Yankees. Especially since they haven’t won a World Series since 2009. So they snuck by the very game Put-that-Ball-in-Play Guard Dogs of Cleveland and lost to the Astros in 4 straight. No shame Yankees.

The only shame is on the Yankee fans who booed Aaron Judge for not hitting a home run every time up. With everybody else on that team slumping or injured, what’s the guy supposed to do? Yeah...he was pressing. He’d been pressing ever since he hit number 60. Who wouldn’t press trying to get those idiot Boo-Birds off his back? I never thought the Boston fans would treat a Yankee hero better than his own fans. Judge only had one of the 14 greatest seasons by a Yankee of all time.* Yeah...but what have you done for me lately?

Also...Aaron Judge is a Gentle Giant with a team first attitude, beloved by his coaches and fellow players. He puts butts in the seats...and lots of them are kids just discovering the game. They aren’t booing him...not at all.

*Greatest offensive seasons by a Yankee...all time

1/Babe Ruth 1920/ 54 homers/135 rbis/.376 average/255 OPS+**

**OPS + is slugging % plus on base % normalized for league and home field conditions.

2/Ruth 1921/59/168/.378/239

3/Ruth 1923/41/130/.393/239

4/Ruth 1927/60/165/.356/225

5/Gehrig 1927/47/173/.373/220

6/Ruth 1926/47/153/.372/226

7/Mantle 1957/34/94/.365/221

8/Mantle 1956/52/130/.353/210

9/Gehrig 1934/49/166/.363/207

10/Gehrig 1931/46/185/.341/194

11/DiMaggio 1939/30/126/.381/184 (20Ks)

12/Mantle 1961/54/128/.317/206

13/DiMaggio 1937/46/167/.346/166

14/Judge 2022/62/131/.311/211 (175 Ks)

Comments: In the glow of his recent accomplishments, Aaron Judge is scoring higher than this on most “greatest Yankee seasons” lists.

It’s hard to compare seasons when the game has changed so much from the days of Ruth and Gehrig and DiMaggio and the Mick up to the climate of ‘Three True Outcomes’ today. The outcomes are bogus anyway. It just means that players are now being taught to swing for the fences and strike outs be damned. Thus Aaron had 175 Ks this year. Joe DiMaggio had 20 all season in 1939 in a home park with a fence 460 feet away in left center. (called Death Valley back in the day. Joe himself estimated that he lost 17 home runs to the dimensions of old Yankee Stadium in 1937. That would have given him over 60 that year. Of course the pitchers knew how far it was to that fence and I’m sure pitched Joe out over the plate trying to get some long fly outs from him.)

Ruth and Gehrig got to take aim at the short porch in right and Judge has also profited from the short right field of the new Yankee Stadium. Mickey Mantle played in the era of the much bigger fields. Mick didn’t care...he never played in a park that he couldn’t hit it out of...left, right or center!

Also remember that Ruth and Gehrig played on a team full of on- base guys and it made them more productive...especially with rbis.

Joe D was the only superstar on his later Yankee teams...he had to produce by himself most seasons. Mickey had to play during the heyday of big strike zones and high mounds when pitchers ruled the game. Judge is getting a taste of that as well.

I’ve realized that OPS+ or any other stat system doesn’t tell the whole story. When I take note of strike outs vs. bats on the ball, shouldn’t that figure a little more in favor of the guy who makes contact? I think so.

And Thus We Come To…

The World Series! Where the Myths are made. Where players like Harper, Yordan Alvarez, Zach Wheeler and Justin Verlander are measured against the Gods of Yore.

Philadelphia sends a team that was the very last club to make the Playoffs. Houston was first seed. It seems like the Phillies are on fire and it seems like the Astros are just cruising. Nolo contendre from the other American League Playoff clubs. Nobody is touching the Astros.

Philadelphia has a good offensive lineup with three recently hot hitters carrying the weight...Harper, Hoskins and Schwarber. The Phillies are dangerous 1 through 5. Houston’s lineup is great 1 through 8. I think five days off will chill the Phillies bats more than the Astro bats because the Phils were hotter and leaning on their hitters to bludgeon their way to victories. The Astros have used strategic clutch hits...combined with lights out pitching... starters through bullpen.

The Phillies have a below average defense. The Astros defense is phenomenal...they get the edge at center, third, short, and a big edge at second. The Astros get a HUGE advantage at right (Castellanos is Manos de Piedra vs. Kyle Tucker who is a Gold Glove candidate) . First (Gurriel over Hoskins...did you see Rhys play in the Divisions?)... In left it’s a push. Both Alvarez and Schwarber suck. Also even at catcher. The Phils have the best in the N.L….Realmuto. But even if he bats .000 (and he almost did!) the Houston pitchers would still want Martin Maldonado to catch them.

The Phillies have two great starters...Wheeler and Nola. They have to win. The Astros have Verlander, Framber Valdez and Lance McCullers. All are deadly.

The Phillies have three solid relievers. The Astros have seven.

The Phillies have a feeble bench. The Astros are strong with Trey Mancini, Alydmas Diaz and Christian Vaszquez.

In all areas of the game, Houston is superior. In order to win the Phils will have to stay hot with the power bats, play above their heads on defense and not burn out their bullpen too early in the series. I think they could easily get swept, but that old Philly spirit will carry them to two victories at home and they will go down 4 games to 2.


Enjoy Baseball, Everybody!

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Marco's Baseball Blog-O-Roonie 2022: "DIVIDED DIVISIONAL"


Marco’s Baseball Blog-O-Roonie 2022: Divided Divisional

Seattle Mariners vs. Houston Astros

Well-rested or Energized and Ready for More?

That’s always the question with the Playoff Schedule. I wish MLB would go ahead and fix the discrepancies but since they have to jimmy the schedule anyway next year maybe they can do away with extra off days like the American League contenders have this year.

The Divisionals start on Tuesday with all teams playing. The way it is now, Seattle can pitch Castillo on 3 days rest to start the divisional in Houston. Then the Mariners get an additional day off before playing Game 2 at Houston on Thursday. Robbie Ray could start that game on his regular four days rest. Friday is another off day so they travel to Seattle. The Mariners can start Castillo again on three days rest . Only two starters used up in 3 games as long as they win one.

Actually, the better strategy, I think, is to hold Castillo back until Game 2. He’s very sharp now and if anybody is a good bet to win one of the games in Houston it’s Luis on 5 days rest. The Mariners can try Logan Gilbert, who pitched well against the ‘Stros earlier in the season...or pitch a bullpen game in Game 1. They probably can’t beat Verlander on long rest anyway. They should give themselves the best chance to win one game in Houston and then they have Robby Ray on good rest for Game 3 in Seattle. Robbie pitches much, much better at home this year. If it goes to the full five games the Mariners will have Castillo going on his regular 4 days for the fifth game back in Houston.

The Astros will have had one game in a week if they face Castillo in Game 2. They just may have trouble timing that new triple digit heater he was featuring up in Toronto. I think Castillo could be the X-Factor. If he can win 2 games the Mariners have a chance. Mariners in 5.

Cleveland Guardians vs. New York Yankees

Everybody is saying what a classic game it was when the Clevelands and the Tampa Bays hooked up in that 15 inning 1-0 Game 2 of their Wild Card series. I thought it was a disaster that magnified everything wrong with the game of baseball right now. 15 innings. 1 run. 11 hits. 39 strike outs! 39?

Siri of the Rays struck out 5 times. A Golden Sombrero plus. Giminez of the Guardians also struck out 5 times. I thought it was the most boring game I’ve seen in quite awhile. Just endless hopeless flailing at the plate. If they can’t get some hitting back into the game, this sport is doomed. “Look Kids! He got the batter to swing and miss at ANOTHER slider in the dirt! Are you not Entertained???”

Bring on your pitch clocks, make the hitters keep one foot in the box when they need (yeah right!) to adjust their batting gloves, lower the mound, and reconfigure the strike zone up from the bottom of the knees to the top of the knees. Let’s see some hitting like we had in the Seattle/Toronto game...10 to 9. That’s a whole lot more fun than 1-0 unless you never get tired of .211 hitters missing sliders.

The Yankees had Aroldis Chapman miss practice and give them some half-lame excuse. What a Team guy! So they sat him for the Divisional round. The Yankee bullpen has a lot of injuries so they need him...except that they actually need the former version of Aroldis Chapman. The guy who could actually control his fastball.

The Yankees are a great big question mark. They seem to be a team with 4 good starters, a wounded pen, and a lineup with a superstar in Aaron Judge and an occasional long ball from the others. The long rest probably was welcome to the pinstripers so they could heal up some players. I think they’ll have trouble with the Guardians’ youthful exuberance, especially if Jose Ramirez finds the range.

The Guardians don’t hit the long ball. But they strike out all the time like everybody else. I think the Yanks will outslug them in 5. With their pitching staff the Guard Dogs have a chance, but the rest factor is big when it comes to pitching staffs.

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres

Rested pitching staffs, rested pitching staffs….who has a rested pitching staff? Hmmm...tough one...OH YEAH!...The Dodgers not only have the best pitching staff...they also have the most rested pitching staff.

This one is ridiculous. The Padres pay the price of letting their Wild Card series go to three games by not having any of their three great starters able to start the Divisional with normal rest. No Darvish, no Blake Snell, no Joe Musgrove. The best they can do is rock n’roll Heavy Metal hair stylist Mike Clevinger. Darvish will go in Game 2, then Musgrove will probably jump ahead and pitch Game 3, depending on how things stand, win- wise.

Maybe the Dodger starters in Game 1 and 2, Urias and Kershaw, will be over-rested and have a fit of Southpaw Willies. You know... hit some batters, increase their spin rate and bounce pitches in the dirt, overamp the fastball and bean the mascot, rub too much resin on their ears and have to get an umpire to caress their Cartilaginous Lobes in a tantalizing and sensuous manner.

But I don’t really think any inactivity adjustments will last passed the 2nd or 3rd inning. Maybe the Pods will score early and give the Dodgers trouble but I don’t really think pitching will be an issue for the Heads. They absolutely killed the Padrinos all season (won 14 lost 5) and they’ll be ready. So will their hitters. Especially Mookie Betts, Trea Turner and Freddy Freeman...the Dodger’s 3-headed offensive Monster.

I predict the Dodgers...especially Trea Turner and Betts... will break out the running game and torture the Padres pitchers and catchers. (Darvish is especially vulnerable.) But I look forward to seeing Joe Musgrave pitch a gem at Petco. His two finger salute with ear rub resin check was a classic and nobly restrained “F--- You” gesture to the Mets. And he likes the Dodgers even less. Dodgers in 4.

Atlanta Braves vs. Philadelphia Phillies

The Phils somehow dodged the tired starter dilemma by sweeping the Cardinals in St. Louis. Now they start a well-rested leftie Ranger Suarez against leftie Max Fried and the Bravisimos. The Braves are favored, but the Phils are wearing their hitting shoes against lefties this year (.266/ OPS .771) (The bench however, is fairly feeble vs. lefties.)

The next two starters coming up for the Phils are Zach Wheeler and Aaron Nola. Both were terrific against the Cardinals. I believe that if the Braves come out a little lethargic after five days off, there could be a bloody ambush at Dry Gulch Gully. I am concerned that the days off will have effectively ended the hitting hotstreak the Braves have been on with Olson, Swanson and Riley. I guess we’ll see. After Game 3, the starter cupboard is bare for the Phillies. The Braves will still have some vittles stored up. Let’s say the Braves in a tight 5.

So I predict the Dodgers and Braves in a National League Championship Series Redux. And the New York Yankees will go Goliath against the Cinderella Seattle Mariners.

I’ll wait a while before calling that one and see how bad I look after the Divisional Rounds.

Adios for now.

Friday, October 7, 2022

Marco's Baseball Blog-O-Roonie 2022: "He was Fast...Fast on the Draw..."


Marco’s Baseball Blog-O-Roonie 2022: “He was Fast...Fast on the Draw...”

Cleveland Guardians vs. Tampa Bay Rays in Cleveland (“City of light, City of Magic”)

Who’s fast? The starting pitchers in Game 1 of the Wild Card Extravaganza upon which we are about to feast. Shane McClanahan is the Tampa leftie who throws 100. Shane Beiber is the Cleveland ace..the Guardian of the strike zone. (He guards it with sliders painted around the edges.)

So they’re both named Shane...get it? Like the famous Western Movie Flick. The above quote was Shane’s comment to young Joey (child star Brandon De Wilde) after irrigating the abdomen of hired gunman Jack Wilson (played with notable snakiness by Jack Palance) with several slugs from his trusty .44.

Shane (played by Alan Ladd in perhaps his only really good role) steps outside of the saloon where three dead free-range advocates have decorated the bar room floor and staircase with their remains. Ignoring the blood dripping down his shirt, Shane compliments his adversary’s prowess with the immortal line that seems to sum up the futility of mastering the art of fast-draw murder: “He was on the draw...”

That’s the Wild Card Series ...being debuted this season as part of MLB’s ongoing effort to update the game. Four Wild Card series of best of three games each...all played at the lower seed’s ballpark. Which means...starting pitching will be paramount.

A team like the Mets, with their two aces Scherzer and De Grom, can shut down the opposition’s hitters one time each and...Boom! series please. Teams don’t have enough games to waste time saving anybody’s arm for a Game 6 or something. Bring the heat and scratch out enough runs to win two. That’s the deal.

In this Battle of the Shanes, I like the Guardians on their beautiful home field. They’ve got three studs to deal with the Rays… Beiber, Quantrill and McKenzie. They also have a strong bullpen with Clase, Hentges, and Stephan. I think that’s too many arms for the scrappy Rays to overcome.

I also like that the Guard Dogs strike out less than anybody in baseball. Playoff ball needs balls in play and I think that favors the Dogs. But they may need Jose Ramirez to rediscover his MVP form from the summer and hit a couple of big flies.

Cleveland Triumphant!

***PSYCHIC TIMING ALERT!!!*** As I write this, Jose Ramirez just hit a two run homer in the sixth inning for the Home Team! Honest… you can trust me, I’m not like the others.

Toronto Blue Jays vs. Seattle Mariners in Canada

Most people think the Jays have the hammer in this one. They have the big hitters in Springer, Guerrero, Hernandez and Bichette… all have been red hot at various times. The Jays have the two big arm pitchers they need in Glausman and Manoah. They also have playoff experience, something the Mariners have never experienced.

This team has become the darlings of the Northwest after FINALLY making the playoffs for the first time since the days of Ichiro. They are led by their fab rookie Julio Rodriguez, a wonderkid who can run and hit and field and smile...the perfect young Warrior that the Seattles needed. The M’s also have Eugenio Suarez for power hitting.

Robbie Ray and Luis Castillo are the two Aces of the M’s. And I think that gives them an advantage in this series. Castillo is a seasoned pro who is not likely to lose his mind if the crazy Canucks start puking on themselves up in the stands. (There may be octopuses thrown...they’re basically a bunch of confused hockey fans) If his slider is on, forget it. And Robbie Ray played for the Jays last year and won the Cy Young. Of course, that didn’t stop the Jays from letting him go free agent and sign with the Mariners. I think Robbie will let them know what they missed.

Anyway, the Mariners haven’t won since the last asteroid hit Earth. So this is my upset special...Seattle over Toronto.

Philadelphia Phillies vs. St. Louis Cardinals at Busch

I just can’t see the Phillies upsetting the Cards. Even with the strong starters they have in Wheeler and Aaron Nola. Bryce Harper’s been playing hurt all year and he’s just not at his peak or even close. Without him they have Schwarber, Realmutto and not much else offensively.

The Cardinals have four sturdy gents as potential starters but no true Aces. Miles Mikolas and Jordan Montgomery are both pretty tough and they’ve got a phenom as Closer in Ryan Helsley. (WHIP 0.742!) Helsley has had a problem with his finger… but the Cards need him.

The Cardinals had Goldschmidt hitting lights out all summer and Nolan Arenado was right there with him for a dynamic duo of destruction. Come September the boys went cold...but Albert “The Machine” Pujols got plugged in on a steady diet of left-handed meat slinging pitchers and just bombed the league to carry the team through the end of the season. Now the Cardinals need all three of them to hit.

I like the Cardinals in three games.

New York Mets vs. San Diego Padres at The Apple.

The Marvelous Metskies pulled into the finish line like a lame dog this season. They had a chance to protect their 10 game lead that they’d maintained for the entire season over last year’s Team of Destiny, the Atlanta Braves. But they dropped 4 games in a row to the Bravos at the end of the season and coughed up furballs from there on to miss the Division title and just win a Wild Card. If I were Manager Bucky Showalter I would take out some furball insurance.

Perhaps the last-minute reinstatement of Starling Marte will help. The Mets have other horses in Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil. They’ve got the previously mentioned two-headed pitching Ace in Max/Jake with Edwin Diaz backing them up in the bullpen. They won 101 games in 2022 and under normal circumstances should advance to play for the pennant. Gut check, Men!

How do you explain the San Diego Padres? They trade for superstars and as soon as they put on the Taco uniform they forget who they are/were and become Sad San Diego Sacks.

Eric Hosmer, Juan Soto, Josh Bell, Josh Hader, Blake Snell...they all flopped onto the San Diego beach like so many stranded narwhals. Even home grown star Fernando Tatis Jr. got into the prevailing mood and celebrated his broken wrist with a season long suspension for chemical enhancement of the illegal kind.

The fact that the Los Angeles Dodgers treated the Pods like Red Headed Step Children also helped seal the tomb of failure around the freshly embalmed free agent corpses inside.

Except for Manny Machado.

He’s mean. He’s arrogant. He’s a puffed up peacock who you don’t want over to play Pictionary on Sunday nights. But Manny comes to play and play with menace. He hits and he hits consistently no matter what’s happening around him in the lineup. He plays Gold Glove defense at third and he is a top five MVP candidate every season. Hats off to Macho...whatever he’s drinking the Padres need a couple of cases. (No Jabba Jungle Juice though, Boys!)

Two teams with psych problems. They thought greatness was just a shot away and now they have to load up for a fight. Scherzer and De Grom can only go 5 or 6 innings these days. If Darvish has control and Musgrave or Snell can win one I’ll take the Padres to beard the Mets in their Citifield den.

Next Edition Next Week!


Friday, August 12, 2022

Marco's Baseball Blog-O-Roonie 2022: The Trade Deadline...Goofs, Guts and Glory



There are 30 teams in MLB. 7 out of the top 22 offensive players in

those 30 teams (based on OPS) now play for the L.A. Dodgers and San Diego Padres. One third of the main offensive stars in the game play for just two of the teams!

The Dodgers have Betts, Turner and Freeman and the Padres have Machado, Soto, Bell, Drury and …Tatis Jr. coming back soon from the IL! Three of those guys were just traded to the Padres in some of the great deals in baseball history. And that’s not even the full story!

Padres President/GM A.J. Preller started his hot streak at the table with an inexplicable trade...the Padres recently ineffective closer, Taylor Rogers, Dinelson Limet (ERA 9.49 and currently on the injured list) and two fairly good prospects...Esteury Ruiz (an outfielder with great speed) and a leftie pitcher Robert Gasser. The Brewers gave up Josh Hader...THE BEST CLOSER IN BASEBALL.

Then the Brewers released Limet outright! Released him right after trading for him! And Rogers is a Free Agent after the season! What were the Brewers thinking? Did somebody slip some ayahuasca into their beer? So they save a bit of money by not paying Hader. They were in first place! They think they don’t need a shut-down closer in the playoffs?

This deal went over like stale cookies in the clubhouse...Brewers players were just coming right out and expressing appalled amazement.

The Padres really needed a star closer and they just got the best in baseball for... prospects. Outrageous! And Preller was just getting started!

Everybody knows the set-up: The Washington Nationals won the World Series in 2019 in glorious fashion. Then they started losing their stars and the Nats started losing games. Now they are the worst team in baseball. They lose and they lose ugly. And yet they still had one of the top players and probably the top hitter (even at age 23!) in the game...Wonderful Juan Soto. So they tried to start rebuilding around Juan with an offer of 15 years for $440 million dollars. Soto refused the deal and he has three more seasons before free agency.

So the Nats could either keep him for three years and then watch him leave or trade him now.

Soto’s worth would never be higher. Whoever got him would get a 23 year old superstar with 3 years left on a really cheap contract before free agency. Then his new team could trade him or pay him.

Several teams were trying to work out a deal but the field finally thinned down to St. Louis, San Diego and the Dodgers (probably) .

St. Louis didn’t have enough players and the Padres couldn’t stand by and let the Dodgers have Soto so they offered the entire top tier of their farm system plus injured leftie Mackenzie Gore and disgruntled first baseman Eric Hosmer for Soto...and first baseman Josh Bell who has been hitting almost as well as Soto this season!

A major hiccup...Hosmer’s contract let’s him veto a trade to several teams and Washington was one of them. No sweat...Preller switched Hosmer out for another first baseman, Luke Voit. The Nats said yes and we have an epic deal. But still not done.

Now the Pads needed a right handed power bat to help Machado out.

They pick up Brandon Drury ...a top twenty hitter in MLB...for 18 year old shortstop Victor Acosta. Acosta will be a great five years. But by that time Preller will be long gone ...if he doesn’t win a bunch of playoff games before Soto’s Free Agency.

So now the Padres will be soon be sending a lineup something like this out to face the enemy:

LF: PROFAR batting switch OPS .770

RF: SOTO batting left OPS .903

3B: MACHADO batting right OPS .881

SS: TATIS JR. batting right OPS .965 (career)

1B: BELL batting switch OPS .880

2B: CRONENWORTH batting left OPS .740

DH: DRURY batting right OPS .855

C: ALFARO/NOLA batting right OPS .731/.633

CF: GRISHAM batting left OPS .654

Barring injury, the Pads look quite competitive with the Dodgers and their superb lineup. They don’t have anybody left in the minors who can help them much if their stars get hurt. And the Padres starting pitchers have a lot to prove...(Snell ?, Darvish ?, Manaea ?) but they now have a much stronger back-end of the bullpen.

So what does the real world say about this fantasy ball wet dream of an offensive juggernaut that is the new San Diego Padres?

In the last 19 games the Padres and the Dodgers have played, the Padres have lost 17. Maybe you watched some of the games this weekend between the two teams? Well the Angelinos won the first one 8-1 and the second one 8-3. They won the third game 3-0 on a two hitter.

It looked a lot worse for the Pads. The Dodgers seem to own them lock stock and fish in the barrel. You know what I saw? (Well, I’m telling you anyway…)

The Dodgers look loose, relaxed and totally confident. They’re playing good defense and that helps. But offensively the Dodgers are running the pitch counts up way too fast against the Padre starters. The Bluebloods foul off twenty or thirty foul balls it seems like and by the fourth inning the starter has thrown 70 pitches. It doesn’t help that walks and hit batters turn into runs when the Dodgers deliver clutch hits and at least move the runners up fairly regularly. L.A. just looks like the well-oiled machine they’re being advertised as. The startled herd of deer that is the Padres pitching staff has no answer for the Dodger’s plate discipline. They just try to throw harder and get even more behind in the counts. The Dodgeheads are in their heads.

The Padres looked terrible in the field...bad errors by normally steady Manny Machado...usually a defensive stalwart. And the running game! Not that the Scampering Rabbits really need a running game with all the clutch hits and doubles off the walls. But Mookie Betts looks like he can steal whenever he cares too and it won’t even be close. And Taylor stole third on Manaea ...that was embarrassing. But not as embarrassing as L.A. catcher Will Smith walking into second late in the game.

But by that time the Padres had turned in their time cards. They gave up in the fourth inning of Game 1 and the fifth inning of Game 2.

The Padres finished 28 games behind the Dodgers last year and blamed it on injuries. So they fired the manager. This year they have injuries again. Boo Hoo. So do the Dodgers and most of the other teams in’s the new paradigm.

Maybe Tatis Jr. will finally come back and get hot. Maybe Manager Bob Melvin will quit being polite to the blithering blind umps that are miscalling games so heinously. Get your ass thrown out of a couple of games, Bob! Somebody has to fire this team up and get them some attitude. Their new players did okay against L.A. Soto had some hits and played well in right field. In fact he made a couple of terrific throws from deep. I didn’t realize he had such a strong arm.

What the Padrinos need right now is strong guts.

And the real world opinion of Preller’s coup d’etat? Congrats A.J.! Spectacular! But remember…

The Padres have almost zero chance of keeping Juan Soto from going into Free Agency. That’s because Juan is still going to rate a $400 million contract in 3 years, and the Padres will still be paying Manny Machado (32 mil a year) and Fernando Tatis Jr. (20+ mil a year starting in 2025). They get to watch Josh Bell go to Free Agency next year. They have a bunch of other $10 million + per year contracts on the books. They can’t sign ‘em all. That means they have to go for it and they’ve got two or three seasons to do it.

But why not try? Fight on Taco Men! San Diego has only been to two World Series in their entire history. The Padres are the only San Diego major league sports team. Win something, Baby!


The New York Yankees knew what they needed...outfielders and starting pitchers. The former because Giancarlo Stanton is hurt...a fairly common condition for Mr. Hammy… and they’ve had to use Aaron Judge in centerfield which is putting too much workload on their superstar. Hicks has sucked at the plate. And remember when Joey Gallo could hit? Neither can he. And Matt Carpenter, while having a phenomenal more of a DH at this point in his long career. So they went out and got Andrew Benintendi to play one of the fields. Good deal. They also got starter Frankie Montas and closer Lou Trivino from Oakland for prospects (not their top men).

They should have stopped there. Instead, they inexplicably sent Jordan of their few healthy hurlers… to St. Louis for outfielder Harrison Bader. Now Bader is a gold glover who can run and play a mean center field. BUT HE’S HURT FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR! No help for 2022! And now the formerly considered- brainy Yankees have reversed their depth protection in the rotation.

I count Gerrit Cole, James Taillon, Nestor Cortes and Frankie Montas. That’s four. Montgomery is gone. Severino is out for 60 days minimum. Are they counting on Domingo German again? What if somebody gets hurt? They aren’t even getting any value from Bader...they need to go for it this year while the team is hot….bad trade alert!

Not to worry Yankees! The Boston Red Sox are helping you out by goat roping their team into some kind of hideous gnarly mess. “To the rear... March!” Charge!” “Win at all costs but only after Surrendering.” “We have nothing to Fear but Fear and Success!”

The Sox were in last place in the East at the deadline...okay, so sell.

But they were only a couple of games out of the wild card...rally the troops, fix the bullpen and try to make the playoffs. Your fans will dig it.

So President Chaim Bloom trades catcher Christian Vazquez to the Astros …...the Astros...let me repeat that… for two prospects. Now Christian is one of the most popular Red Sox and a team leader that everybody loves. He’s hitting .287 this year. That’s pretty damn good in the post Mendoza wasteland of sub .200 averages amongst our catching contingent currently extant. In other words...he’s great. Clutch hits and plays some first base when he’s not being ONE OF THE TOP FIVE DEFENSIVE CATCHERS IN BASEBALL!

Was he making too much money? Not really...$7 mil a year. Is he going to be a free agent? Yes….and every team besides the five that have a catcher that good are going to try to get him.

Much like the opinion of the Brewers clubhouse on the Hader trade, the Red Sox as a team were disheartened by the trade of Vazquez. You don’t trade a Christian Vazquez if you’re trying to make the playoffs. The Sox will probably lose Xander Bogaerts to Free Agency because of it. You just don’t trade a guy like that who knows your pitching staff and knows the league and produces at the plate and keeps the team going with his positive attitude and defensive know how. Christian never, never quit on this team. All his teammates recognized that...why didn’t Chaim Bloom?

But that’s okay… Bloom is the genius who traded Hunter Renfroe for Jackie Bradley Jr. Hunter just let us know how he felt about that trade by busting multiple homers against the Sox on his last trip here with the Brewers. Jackie just got released from Beantown… bye Jackie. You played great defense and some of the time you didn’t suck as an offensive player. Boston has had a no-hit outfield all year. First base too. You can’t win when you don’t have production from those positions. So trade your hitting catcher and go get Tommy Pham and Eric Hosmer to save the season.???? What about the bullpen? Take it from Preller in San can’t tip toe around in a pennant race. Trying to remain playoff viable while still positioning the team for long term success...Good Luck!

Did you notice who the Astros got for the stretch? The aforementioned Christian Vazquez to catch with Maldonado...that’s two warrior backstops for the Houstons. Also Trey Mancini from Baltimore to help Gurriel at first base. (He needed help.) But why the Orioles, who are threatening to take a wild card, let Mancini go I can’t comprehend. He’s one of their two best hitters and the team inspiration. Maybe the Orioles didn’t notice that they are now a .500 club with OPPORTUNITIES.

Houston also got another leftie for the pen in Will Smith. Good work Stros. Two regulars and a bullpen arm for prospects. That’ll help them get over Michael Brantley needing shoulder surgery.

Houston vs. the Mets in the World Series? With Scherzer, deGrom and Verlander all lathered up? Altuve vs. Lindor? Pete Alonso vs. Yordan Alvarez? Some tasty matchups in there.

Well….plenty of season left and the Dodgers and the Yankees are still strong.

Guess we’ll know in October!

Vaya Con Dios!

Monday, June 20, 2022

Marco's Baseball Blog-O-Roonie 2022: HOT STREAKS


Marco’s Baseball Blog-O-Roonie 2022: HOT STREAK

By the end of the 1948 season Joe DiMaggio of the Yankees is a crippled mess, barely able to hobble around the diamond. His problem is a nasty bone spur digging into his heel when he puts weight on it. He goes home after the Yanks are eliminated in the pennant race by Bob Feller and the Cleveland Indians... an aberrant season in which the Pin-striped Pulverizors are NOT going to be in the World Series. DiMaggio has an operation on his tender heel and limps home to rest.

His “rest” lasts through the winter, the total run of Spring Training in spring of 1949 and into June...8 months of no baseball at all as his heel still screams at him whenever he puts weight on it. He misses 65 games to start the 49 season. Joe’s career is hanging... twisting slowly in the wind.

The Yankees are doing very well without him to start the season, but they slow down in June as the Red Sox start coming on.

The Sox have won 10 of 11 as the teams get ready to play a 3 game set at Fenway that would start the fans wondering just who was whose Daddy.

But on Wednesday morning back in New York, Joltin’ Joe stands up out of bed and pain. It is miraculous after over a year of suffering. He can finally put weight on his injured heel without gritting his teeth. He calls manager Casey Stengel immediately.

And that is why on Friday, June 28, Joe DiMaggio’s name is written into the Yankee lineup card and delivered to the umpires at the traditional home plate exchange.

With no Spring Training and no at bats in a game since September 1948, Joe’s timing is off in his first time up and he fouls several pitches out of play to the right side. The Red Sox starter, Mickey McDermott, throws hard. Joe finally blasts a single to left. Ted Williams fields it and laughs, shaking his head. Even he is impressed.

But Ted isn’t laughing when Joe comes up in his second at bat and hits a 2-run homer over the monster. The Boston fans actually give Joe DiMaggio a standing ovation. As one would say later, “You can hate the Yankees, but you gotta love Joe DiMaggio.”

With New York leading in the ninth 5-4, Joe runs down a Williams deep shot to center to preserve the victory.

Saturday. Game 2. The Red Sox come storming out of the gate and lead 7-1 in the 4th inning. Looks like a laugher until ...3-run homer over the monster by DiMaggio! And then in the 8th...2-run bomb over the Green Hulk again! Yanks win 9-7!

The third game of the series has New York leading Boston 3-2 in the seventh in front of a SRO crowd at the Fens. Joe comes up in the 8th with two men on. Nobody is really surprised when he hits the light tower with a 3-run moonshot that wins the game for the Bombers and sparks them towards the pennant and the first of 5 Series wins in a row from ‘49 to ‘53.

DiMag bats .455 in the three game set with 4 home runs and 9 rbis. He says simply: “I think I was the most surprised guy in all of Boston.” So much for Spring Training.

Now Trevor Story is no Joe DiMaggio. But his selection as the Player of the Week in May of 2022 gives pause. Where did that come from?

Boston obviously needs to sign a productive middle infielder in the off season, but the list of suspects empties steadily as one star free agent shortstop after another is gobbled up by hungry teams. Correa to the Twins, Baez to the Tigers, Seager and Marcus Semien to the Rangers, Andrelton Simmons to the Cubs... no call for Story, waiting for the axe to fall after a very productive run as shortstop of the Colorado Rockies. Maybe teams figure Trevor’s numbers have been inflated by Coors Field?

Finally the call from the Red Sox nets him a 6 year, $140,000,000 deal. Oh My Soul, that’s a hunk of change!

Which is why Boston fans are booing him lustily in early May when Trevor is batting .195 with no homers and almost nothing else positive. But here’s the deal…

1/Story is coming from the National to the American League and he doesn’t know the pitchers well.

2/He is adjusting to playing second base instead of his familiar position of shortstop. (Where Boston All-star Xander Bogaerts excels.)

3/Story gets the flu in April

4/Trevor’s wife has herself a baby in May and Trevor goes home to play Daddy. (As he should.)

So he has a few alibis. But the Red Sox are losing spectacularly. Obscenely. Regularly. Constantly. In wholesale lots of lost series after lost series. One run games, blown saves, extra inning cataclysms and blow outs. They are in last place and already written off for any kind of post season, even with the new additional wild card team for this year. And the fans decide that Trevor Story is not earning his salary of $23 mil a year. So they let him know.

But the whole team is in a funk. The Red Sox don’t like the cold weather at all, and this year their offense just ...isn’t. Devers, Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez are doing great, but then the next 6 positions in the lineup are strictly Mendoza-ville. Verdugo, Dalbec, Vasquez, Bradley Junior, Kiki Hernandez...and yes, Trevor Story...all hovering feebly around the .200 line.

You could say the Red Sox can’t hit for average but they have no power. Tough to win ballgames with that lineup, and when you add in a confused and ineffective bullpen you Porgy says…

plenty of nuthin’”.

Story hits his first 4-bagger as a Red Sox on May 11. And then in Game 1 of the next series against the Mariners he connects 3 straight times and steals a base. Next game? Grand Slam to win it for the Bostons. He winds up the week with two more homers...6 dingers in 7 games with 14 Ribbies. How do you get that hot that quick?

If anybody should know, it’s Trevor Story. His rookie year in Colorado he hit 7 home runs in his first 6 games to win Player of the Week in the N.L. The Hall of Fame wanted his helmet and batting gloves after that career-start. (They wanted his bat too but no way.)

This time, coincidentally, the rest of the Sox lineup gets hot at the same time Trevor does and pours on the the runs. I mean, the averages are still excruciating, but at least people like Dalbec are hitting an occasional bomb and even Jackie Bradley gets a couple of base hits. And since Story’s outbreak, the Boston team has vacated the basement and has a winning record now.

Manager Alex Cora takes the credit. The winning streak coincides with him shaving his beard.

Here are some other interesting Hot Streaks to ponder:

1968...Frank Howard of the Washington Senators hits 10 home runs in a string of 20 at bats. You can’t even understand how hot that is. He sets a record with 10 taters in a week of 6 games. He has 4 games of multiple dingers in the streak.

1952...Walt Dropo of the Detroit Tigers gets a hit in twelve consecutive at bats. He ties the record originally set by the old Cubs catcher Johnny Kling in 1902 and tied by Pinky Higgins of the Boston Red Sox in 1938, but Higgins had a couple of walks mixed in with his base hits. Only Dropo and Kling have ever gotten 12 base hits in consecutive plate appearances. Walt hit 9 straight singles and then went triple, single, double to tie the record before a foul pop ended it in his fourth at bat of the day.

1932...Johnny Burnett of the Cleveland Indians gets 9 hits in one game. (It’s a was an 18 extra inning game and the Clevelands lost. Burnett went 9 for 11 with 2 doubles.) Nobody has ever gotten within 2 of Johnny Burnett’s Hot Hit Streak.

1927...Babe Ruth hits 17 home runs in 1 month. The Babe set the record of 59 circuit clouts in a season back in 1921. As an older player nobody really expects him to challenge that record and when he stands at 43 taters at the end of August nobody is watching for anything stratospheric. But the Bambino gets hot and clobbers 17 home runs in the month of September, hitting his record 60th in the last game of the year on the same day that his great rival Walter Johnson retires. The Babe hits one off Johnson’s Washington teammate Tom Zachary, who sits in the dugout crying afterward.

Ruth sets the record for home runs in a month that is beaten by…

1937...Rudy York hits 18 bombs in August. Rudy is a rookie on the Detroit Tigers searching for a position on the loaded Tiger team. He’s an Oklahoma Indian with scary power but limited defensive prowess at any position. The Tigres have Hank Greenberg in his prime at first base so nothing for York there. Outfield is not Rudy’s bag either. Likewise catcher and third base. Rudy is a bench warmer until manager Mickey Cochrane puts him in the lineup at catcher on August 4. Rudy hits 4 bing bangs in 4 games...and Cochrane sits him down for awhile and only lets him pinch hit! Eventually they leave him in the lineup and the rookie winds up with 18 tatas and 49 rbis in 30 August games. He finishes the season with 35 long balls in only 375 at bats. So over half his four baggers come in one month. Hace mucho calor!

2017...Giancarlo Stanton hits 18 downtowners in August to tie York’s record.

*****ASTERISK SECTION: Sammy Sosa hits 20 home runs in June of 1998. I guess that makes him a greater player than Ruth, York and Stanton? doesn’t.

The record for homering in consecutive games is 8 by 3 men: Dale Long was a journeyman first baseman playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates when he got hot in 1956. Don Mattingly went yard on a daily basis in 1987. Ken Griffey Jr. duplicated those results in a good week back in July ‘93.

What about the pitchers? Most of you remember Orel “Bulldog” Hershiser strapping the Dodgers to his back and carrying them over the line in 1988 when he set the record for consecutive shutout innings with 59.

But I noticed a funny thing going through the history books: some of the most impressive pitching hot streaks were put up by screwball pitchers.

That is noteworthy because very few pitchers have ever mastered the pitch. We’ve got hundreds of forkball/split finger pitchers and we’ve had submariners and quite a few effective knuckle ball pitchers. But good screwball pitchers? It’s a very hard pitch to’s just the opposite of a curve or slider...the pitcher has to turn his hand inside instead of outside to get the contrary movement. But rarity equals potency when it comes to screwball pitchers.

The Screwball Pantheon:


CHRISTY MATHEWSON (he invented it)

CARL HUBBELL(he mastered it)

WARREN SPAHN (he added it and tried it on Musial)

JUAN MARICHAL (with a high kick added)

MIKE CUELLAR (lots of Cubans liked the screwball)

FERNANDO VALENZUELA (cemented the screwball’s fame)

Relief Pitchers:

Luis Arroyo (Cuban born Yankee reliever circa 1961)

Tug McGraw (thanks Warren!)

Willie Hernandez (MVP closer Tigers 1984)

Hector Santiago (throws it today)

Christy Mathewson either invented his famous “fadeaway” (which was a screwball) or didn’t give credit to whoever taught it to him. Matty was such a goody two shoes and super smart to boot that maybe he did invent the pitch. He wasn’t the type to lie about it.

Matty had a great fastball and great control, so when he was on, the other team was in serious trouble. In the 1905 World Series Matty’s Giants were going up against Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics. Matty pitches a 4-hit shut out in Game 1, another 4-hit shutout in Game 3 and wins the Series for the New Yorkers with a 6-hit shutout in Game 5. All complete games.

Notice one thing...this was the first meeting between these two rival teams from different leagues, and the A’s had never seen a screwball.

Carl Hubbell might have had the best of all possible screwballs. That’s because he had nothing else to throw that would get people out. King Carl threw the screwball so much that his left (throwing) arm was permanently hanging pronated.

Carl was most famous for his start in the 1934 All Star Game. With two men on in the first inning, King Carl fans Ruth, Gehrig and a row. All three of the sluggers look awkward as hell trying to hit that darting scroogie. In the second inning Hubby fans two more Hall of Famers in Al Simmons and Joe Cronin to set the most memorable All Star pitching record of all time. Notice how many screwballs those five hitters were seeing in the American league...nil. Again, the very rarity of that particular pitch made it effective.

Carl “The Meal Ticket” Hubbell also owns the record for most consecutive games won without a loss. He won 24 decisions without a loss in 1936-37.

Warren Spahn is the winningest leftie of all time. His career didn’t really start until he got back from WWII. His first win came at age 25...and he wound up winning 363 ball games! Spahnie had an arsenal of good pitches. His circle change was famous and in the second half of his career, he added a screwball to give him an even stranger look.

Spahnie coached for the Mets after his playing days were over and taught the screwball to one of the top relief men of the game...Tug McGraw.

Juan Marichal was another pitcher with a gigantic repertoire. He would throw a slider, a curve, a change and a screwball all in the same at bat and throw them from two or three different arm slots.

Fernando Valenzuela showed up in 1981 and took the game by storm with his Luis Tianteyes to the heavens prayer to the sky-god” as he delivered to the plate. While the stadium disc jockey played The Lonely Bull on the sound system. Fernando allowed a total of one run in his first 5 games...4 complete game shutouts! Again, the hitters hadn’t really ever seen a pitch do what Fernando’s screwball did.

You know how all the time the Stat-Heads of the game are mumbling about not letting their starters go through the opposing lineup a third time? Familiarity breeds contempt and when good hitters get multiple looks at a hurler’s stuff he’s more likely to do something with it.

Well, if that’s true on a per game basis, it is also true on a seasonal basis. Back in the Good Old Days of two 8 team leagues, each team played the other 7 in their league 22 times every year. Almost every team used a 4-man starting staff and most had maybe 10 pitchers total. So the hitters of the Old Days only had to study up on maybe 30 starters and they saw those starters 5 or 6 times a season. Add in the key relievers. Lots of familiarity. So they got to know the tendencies of those pitchers.

Nowadays you’ve got 14 other teams in your league plus some interleague games. Even with video scouting the hitters can’t keep up with that many pitchers. What is it, maybe 100 pitchers that they’ll see more than once or twice a year and need to figure out how to hit them? Plus new arms coming into the game constantly?

Yet another reason why hitting is disappearing from the game. (And yet another list! this one….)

High Average Hitters...An Endangered Species

1/Too many pitchers to keep track of.

2/Improved scouting and video making it possible to find all the studs in the world who can throw 96+ and filling rosters with them.

3/Everybody teaches a slider/cutter that is super hard to recognize as a “pseudo” fastball.

4/Huge bullpens mean hitters never face a tired pitcher. Instead they face a new pitcher almost every at bat.

5/so much speed in the game means outfielders make spectacular plays to rob hitters of base hits in the gaps.

6/glove technology is probably three or four times better than in the

pre-war era.

7/too much travel in the game

8/too many cold weather games

How did guys like Ted Williams, Rod Carew, Wade Boggs, George Brett, Tony Gwynn and Ichiro do it? Will we ever see a batting average over .360 again? (Ty Cobb hit .362...LIfETIME!)



The Yanks are pounding the Dickens out of everybody. I tried to jinx them by picking them to finish fourth in the AL East, but it backfired. Whereas in the last several years the Yanks have looked old, now every move they make works like magic. I think their best move was trading Gary Sanchez, the anti-catcher ,to the Twins for Josh Donaldson. Their pitching staff loves new catcher Trevino and you’ve seen Taillon, Montgomery, Severino and Nestor Cortes all turn into stoppers. And Gerrit Cole is still there!

If I had told you pre-season that Chapman, Chad Green, Loaisiga and Zack Britton were going to miss all or most of the season you would have jumped off their bullpen bandwagon I bet. But the Yanks got lucky with Clay Holmes turning into Mariano Junior and Michael King striking out 51 batters in 37 innings.

They fixed up their shortstop problem with that Falafel kid from Pittsburgh via Twinky town. (Excuse me...Isiah Kiner-Falefa.)

The infield is solid now with Gleber Torres moving over to second where he does less harm. They went out and got Anthony Rizzo to play first base. I told you he was too old. But evidently not too old to lay in ambush of low inside fastballs to Pop into the Pavillion. 18 taters to augment Aaron Judge’s 25. (Aaron on his way to a career year...barring injury.)

So much for my prediction of disaster in Pinstripes. The oddsmakers are only giving the Yankees a 99.9% chance of making the playoffs. (Lloyd in Dumb and Dumber: “So you’re tellin’ me there’s a chance!”)

AL Central: Tony LaRussa is obviously insane. He’s walking Trea Turner after his pitcher gets ahead with a 1-2 count? Huh? Not exactly a by-the-book managing decision. The White Sox should get Joe Maddon who the Angels should never have let go. (How many games was he supposed to win with no pitching staff and injuries to Trout and Rendon?) The White Sox, even as diminished by injury as they are, still hold the hammer in the AL Central.

AL West: Those mischievous Astros! They’ve somehow reworked their whole lineup so skillfully that it’s the same production with mostly new names. From Springer, Altuve, Correa, Bregman to Alvarez, Tucker, Altuve, Bregman, Pena. Nicely done, Space City!

NL East: the Bravos just finished a 14 game win streak against Arizona, Colorado,Oakland,Pittsburgh and Washington. Impressive, right? Not when you look at the records of those opponents. The Braves are short on hitting, especially in the outfield. They lost Ozzie Albeis at least til September. Their pitching is definitely not deep. They are down 5.5 games to the Mets and 3 ahead of the Phillies. And they’ve now finished up the kindest portion of their schedule. question Atlanta...NOW DO YOU MISS FREDDIE FREEMAN???

NL Central: Dead tie. Milwaukee and St. Louis. As predicted in these pages. Goldschmidt and Arenado are the golden boys of the Cardinals and they have offensive help from Edman. But the St. Louis team has 8 regulars or semi-regulars with on base averages under .320.

The Brewers are barely functioning offensively. Yelich has never rounded into the form of MVPs of old and the Brew-Crew has 11 regulars with OBAs of under .320. So don’t expect a lot of scoring in their upcoming 4 game set in Milwaukee.

Problem: The Brewers have lost 3 star pitchers: Peralta, Woodruff and Josh Hader. Poof and they’re gone. Corbin Burns is the last Ace standing.

St. Louis needs to win this series and start pulling away from Milwaukee. These teams have gone 5-5 against each other this season. I relish watching how they match up right now.

NL West: Ssshhhh! Everybody be quiet and don’t wake them up! DON’T WAKE THE DODGERS!!!

They’ve been coasting all season with their unbeatable lineup and their unbeatable pitching staff and now they’ve somehow just fallen totally asleep and zonkered out into a protracted comatosity.

Remember San Diego...Pride of the Waffle House team colors and forever cursed because they never won one with Tony Gwynn? Have a shortstop who’d rather break bones on his motor bike than on the ballfield? Well yesterday they were in first place for a minute.

And the Giants of San Francisco...nice city if you like cable cars and Hippies. The Giants have been winning frequently and doggedly.

They’re coming for you again Dodgers! Bobby Thompson, Juan Marichal, Willie Mays, Stretch McCovey, Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner and all the Dodger-killers of the past are biting you on the ass in the division standings. They never quit, Dodger Boys!!

(The hairy, skinny freak with the pistol and the coke bottles on his fingers from The Warriors:

(“Dodger-Boys! (clink-clink)

Come out to PLAAAAAAY_AAAAY!!!!”)