Guide to Post-season Cheering: NL Edition

So the Giants are on the doorstep of shattering all of our hopes and dreams for a repeat. Die hard baseball fans will still watch baseball, but it’s always better when you have a team or a couple of teams to root for. There are some important protocols and criteria for choosing your “adopted” baseball squad.  Choose carefully.  If you pull for a wrong team, you could be guilty of baseball blasphemy.

First lets discuss the rules.  They are very simple rules.

  1. They can’t be the Dodgers.  (That is easy.  LA sucks and won’t make the playoffs ever again).
  2. They can’t be the Braves.  I’ll explain a little more later, but seriously, does anyone question this rule?
  3. The team must possess minimal former Dodgers. (Former Giants are a bonus but not essential).
  4. The team must not have beat us (Giants) in any critical postseason events.

Arizona:

We will start here because this one is easy. On the surface, the novice fan may want to root for the D-backs because if they win it all, we automatically get second. That is a faulty amateur theory. Let’s dive in. Look at the manager of the team. Kirk Gibson is the skipper and that immediately eliminates the team from our rooting choices. Nobody wants a postseason filled with highlights of a gimpy, former Dodger Kirk rounding the bases, rockin’ a pathetic mustache and Jack Buck complaining how he can’t believe what he just saw. Get some glasses Jack. It’s a home run. I believed it, I just hated it granted I was 8). Rule 4 is safe and in addition, Arizona isn’t a great rival of ours even though if they play in our division. They only have 2 former Dodgers, but they are eliminated by their manager. They could be in the running if they would fire Gibby and hire third base coach Matt Williams. Oh yes, I said Matt Williams. Breathe in the nostalgia.

Arizona Out!!!

Atlanta Braves:

Another easy decision. Ok seriously, in the National League, the Braves fall a very close second to the Dodgers in the hate category. Do you really want to watch a postseason with that stupid tomahawk chant? Nope. But let’s talk about the rules.Obviously, they violate rule 2. Amazingly enough, the Braves have never knocked the Giants out of the post-season. That is, in part, because the Giants didn’t make the postseason a whole lot in the 90’s. In addition, in 2002 and 2010, the Giants had to go through the Braves to get to the World Series and the Braves rolled over like well-trained poodles (and we are grateful). So why the hate? Did I mention the chant?  Or the fans. Second worst fans in all of baseball. (Seriously who would willingly DO that chant?) I guess the rest of us got sick of them in the 90’s and the rest is just a bad hangover.  The only thing the Braves have going for them is that they aren’t the Dodgers. The Braves have a decent Dodger ratio with 3 players being former Dodgers. Not bad, but rule 2 is in effect. It’s the rules… it’s science.

Atlanta Out!!!

Milwaukee Brewers:

Ok this is another tricky one. The Brewers are always terrible and who doesn’t love a good underdog story. Next year, they will probably break apart the team so this is pretty much their shot. Let’s break it down by the rules. Rule 1 and 2 are off to a tremendous start. They aren’t the Dodgers and they aren’t the Braves. Fab! They have 3 former Dodgers on the team which isn’t bad. But they have K-Rod. Ok, so this is a tricky part to rule 4. Technically the Brewers never beat the Giants….But K-Rod did….In the freakin World Series. Ask yourself this: if he were to play in a game you were watching, how would you deal with the emotional trauma you are bound to encounter. Are you ready to deal with that? I’m not. Especially with the way this season is ending, I need happy thoughts. K-Rod brings back angry thoughts… sad thoughts.  It wouldn’t be baseball blasphemy to pick the Brewers, but I just can’t do it.

Brewers Out!!!

Philadelphia Phillies:

Philly is my pick for the National League. They satisfy all of the rules. I am not usually a Philly fan. In fact, I have never pulled for them in a post-season. However, they satisfy rule 1 and 2. They have 2 players that are former Dodgers which is better than all the other teams that are in. Yes, Charlie Manuel played for the Dodgers but he wasn’t that great. He definitely never made it to the infamous status of Kirk Gibson. Therefore, they are a much better pick than Arizona when it comes down to rule 3. Rule 4 should be a tie because no team has really kicked us out of too many playoff games. However, I prefer the Phillies for this rule because last year we beat them to win the NL. This year, we will be sitting in our libraries that smell of rich mahogany, drinking our finest scotch, smoking our best pipes, and we can confidently say “They aren’t that good, we owned those guys last year.”

Go Philly!

(-JS)

Never Give Up!

I’m writing this post as a pep talk to myself. Every time I watch the Giants, check a score, or sneeze, the Giants are finding a way to suck. Here are three reasons not to be discouraged:

  1. We are still only a game out. Last year at this point, we were 6 games out. Also, be grateful we don’t play in any other division. Here are some fun facts. We would be 8 games behind Milwaukee, 14.5 behind Philly, 5 behind Texas, 1 behind Detroit (ok that is fine), and 11.5 behind the Yanks or Red Sox. Be thankful that we play in this division. Arizona is a nice story, but let’s be honest, they don’t scare anyone. We don’t have to play amazing (or even good) baseball in order to make the playoffs.  We just need to get hot at the right time and we are fine.
  2. Our schedule is awesome. We don’t play any great teams anymore. Thank goodness we don’t have to play any of the teams mentioned above. In fact, out of our last 34 games, 21 are at home, and all are in our division except for the Cubs and Astros. The only team we play is with a winning record is the D backs. Heck, we should be celebrating this and gearing up for another post season. (This is the way I pump myself up because I’m not sure I’m sold)
  3. We should be getting a lot of our guys healthy for a strong late season push. Let’s list some names that should be back in the next couple of weeks: Beltran, Sanchez, Cabrera (Nick won’t care), Romo, Whiteside, Zito (ok does anyone care), and Wilson. Wow, we have a lot of hurt Giants and we should get all those guys back strong. In addition, when Wilson comes back we also get the beard back. Insta-mojo!

All of this is to say don’t panic. We will be fine. Yes, we are terrible right now. We were terrible at this point last year and we don’t have near the hole to dig out of. Oh, and one more thing. We are still the champs. Eat that Arizona!

(-JS)

State of the Nation(als)

This has been a year of ups and downs for the good ole Nationals.  Yesterday obviously changed the course of their season and really stirred up this town.  If you haven’t heard yet, Jim Riggleman resigned abruptly after the team beat Seattle.  What makes this more interesting, is the team just got above 500 and they are on a tear (winning 11 of 12).  Let me argue the both sides of this decision.

First, let’s look at this from Rigg’s side.  During the course of his career, he has been a part of a lot of smaller contracts.  He has never signed the “big one” and probably wanted the opportunity.  He had just gotten his team above 500, and I’m guessing, thought now was a time to make a stand.    He has stated that he only wanted a conversation about his contract and Mike Rizzo (VP of something) wouldn’t give him a chat.  Super freaking duper.  Suck it up and coach, Riggs.  I don’t get this move at all. You signed the contract in the first place, now you need to coach under it.  If he would have performed all year-long, I’m sure he would have been signed to a longer deal.

Let’s now look at this from the National’s perspective.  Mike Rizzo doesn’t owe Riggleman a conversation about his contract mid-season.  Yes, Riggs was performing decently, but the Nationals are building something great… if not scary for the rest of the division.  Lets add some more color to that thought.  We all know about the massive contract for Jason Werth and the electric stuff of Stephen Strasburg.  The latter comes back at some point this year and Bryce Harper looms as a scary threat.  That brings us to this year’s draft where the Nationals had the #6, #23, and #34 picks in a very deep and strong draft.  All of this is to say that the Nationals are legitimately poised for something good.  They need and deserve the right manager.  Riggleman could have been that manager, but they needed to be sure.  I don’t fault them for not re-signing him mid-season, I actually applaud them.  Riggs blew it.

Some genius baseball monk stated before the season that the Nationals should be about 500 by midseason and then fall back.  They look like they should make his prediction true.  Let’s see how they perform under interim manager John Mclaren.

(-JS)

*editor’s note: the Nationals hired Davey Johnson to replace Riggleman today.

Prediction Reboot: The (correct) Stover Addition

Steve has issued some re-picks as we enter June and I thought I would set him straight on a few…

AL East

Steve is half right here. The Red Sox are back and they are going to win this division. I differ with his assessment of the Rays though. I don’t think you can succeed in that division without more hitting. Yes, they are a very similar team to the Giants, but they don’t play in the NL West (thankfully) and I can’t see them beating the Yankees and the Red Sox. They rank 21st in hitting and I’m not sure that will cut it in that division. In addition, the Yankees actually are ranked higher in pitching stats and I don’t think they are going to lose 1st place to anyone but the Sox.  I’m taking the Red Sox to win it, and the Yankees to win the wild card. One side note, I think Joe Maddon is one of, if not THE best manager in all of baseball. I would want to play for him.

AL Central

Ok so this one is super confusing….still.  Even more confusing is the White Sox. They have turned around, or at least slowed, their awful start. Steve, I like that you aren’t just picking chalk here, but I don’t see a division win in their future. I don’t see it in Cleveland’s either. At some point, Cleveland is going to start playing up, or should I say down to their potential. I’m taking the Tigers in this one.

AL West

This division still lines up clearly for me. The Rangers are winning it. Billy Bean came out today and said he didn’t want his catcher getting run over at the plate so he told him to avoid any home plate collisions. That should keep the A’s from having a repeat of the Buster Posey incident. However, Suzuki isn’t Posey, and the A’s aren’t as good as the Rangers. I’ll still take them to repeat as AL west champs.

NL East

Steve and I are in complete agreement here. Even though Hanley Ramirez is stinkin’ this year, the Marlins are finding a way to win. Pitching is the key to their success, but Josh Johnson is on the DL and they don’t have a lot of proven winners on the staff or in the bullpen. They should come back down soon. The scary part for that division is even when the Marlins are playing great, the Phillies still lead by 2 games. Philly will win this one easily and I am changing my wild card pick to Atlanta. That has more to do with Cincy stinking than with my faith in Atlanta.

NL Central

So I have publicly ripped the Brewers in previous posts and it looks like they listened. They are playing great right now and only 2.5 games out. It looks like they may make my pre season pick correct after all. Here’s a fun fact: they are amazing at home and AWFUL on the road. 21-7 vs 9-19. I don’t know what to do with the Cards. They are surprising, especially noting the slump that Pujols is in. My bold prediction is that he is going to stay in that slump all year. I know he didn’t want to negotiate his contract during the year, but maybe he should reevaluate that stance. Something is bothering him and he says he isn’t injured. I will choose to believe him and say it must be mental. Sign a contract for 26 mil a year for the next 7 years and he’ll be fine.  I’ll keep the Brewers winning the central but knock Cincy off of my previous wild card choice.

NL West

Nobody panic. Arizona isn’t winning the west. Every team gets hot at some point, they just put a couple of hot streaks together. I also don’t believe that Colorado is out of it. I look for the Rockies to be in it until September. I am still concerned about the Giants. I watched the game last night and even though we got 16 hits, I just have no faith in where our offense is coming from. Especially when Huff is up, I have no faith. I am the eternal pessimist when my team is up but I’m still not a believer yet. Trade options are a discussion for a separate post but we need to strengthen our lineup. We have 5 outfielders that Bochy has to try to time their hot streaks (ie Ross and Nate right now) and that isn’t a recipe for success.

Ok so Steve and I agree on a lot of picks.  That is a natural occurrence because we are both very smart males.  I’m really looking forward to this summer.  I broke down and got the MLB package so now I can watch the Giants more.  Blasted east coast time is killing me though.  Enjoy the games!!!

(-JS)

Thoughts on Fantasy, Predictions, and Soup

I love soup. Watching baseball in DC is like ordering soup in a restaurant. I won’t leaving you hanging with that little nugget, I’ll explain. Recently I went to a nice little restaurant called “Not Your Average Joe’s.” Steve may know this place because it is a Boston chain. We didn’t go on Friday which is a little disappointing because Friday is clam chowder day. I never end up at restaurants on the right soup day. I always get stuck on “Southwestern Chipotle Lintel Bean” night. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still order the Southwestern Chipotle Lintel Bean soup, it just isn’t clam chowder.

Many of you may be tracking where I’m going here, other’s may not, so let me drive this car into the garage. Every time I flip on the TV to watch some sports, I’m stuck with many options. Orioles, Nationals, Cubs, Red Sox or Yankees are always on TV here. The Giants are never on.  All those other teams are Southwestern Chipotle Lintel Bean soup to me. I enjoy the heck out of watching them, they just aren’t clam chowder. I miss clam chowder. Nay, I need me some chowder.

After the first week of May, I feel the need to evaluate some of my choices. I have made some bad choices. Bad choice #1. Picking the Brewers to be good. You may be thinking, “you also picked the Red Sox to be good and their records are similar.” Great thought, however, the Red Sox have some proven veteran players. I think the Red Sox are performing at their lowest level. Eventually, those good players will start producing and average out this slow start.  I’m not so sure the Brewers are at their low point. This could just be their actual performance level.

Bad choice #2. The AL central. Ok so we all got this one wrong and it may even out in the end. However, this start is almost exactly backwards from how I predicted it. I think it is great for baseball when Cleveland is good, but this start came out of nowhere. I hope they can continue it.

Bad choice #3 is all about fantasy baseball. I drafted Troy Tulowitzki and Ryan Howard with my first two picks. How’s that working out? Well it could be worse, but besides the HR totals, I’m not impressed. Tulo is ranked 69th and Howard is ranked 33rd. I currently don’t have any hitters ranked higher than 33rd on my team. Suckfest! I guess my bad choice #3 should be my whole draft. Terrible. I am in fifth and sinking fast.

Making bad choices is part of the fun of baseball.  For all the talk about luxury tax issues, baseball has an incredible amount of parity. You never quite know who will be good and who will struggle. The first month of this season points this out perfectly. Who knew the Indians would be so good, Lance Berkman would be playing out of his mind, or that the White Sox would already be 11 games out of first. If you knew those things, before the season you would be a genius or a  liar. Me, I’m just going to eat more Southwestern Chipotle Lintel Bean soup while thinking about clam chowder.

(-JS)

The National

Yesterday I had the joy and privilege of watching our fabulous Giants live in DC. This gave me my first opportunity to see this team live since 2008. That is a large drought!

I wanted to point out a couple of things as I watched our team that don’t appear in the normal stat line. The first thing about that game was it was weird. There was 9 walks and 3 HBP allowed by the Giants. That’s 12 free baserunners and they only scored 1 run. Amazing. Apparently that is the first time in the live ball era where a team has been issued 12 free bags and scored less than 2. Odd ball stat, but I like it.

There are a couple of fun quirks that I enjoyed about this team. Watching Tejada play third was interesting. HE MOVES A LOT! He is either stretching, practice swinging, or doing sprints. It was fascinating. Another interesting thing happened on every bunt attempt. He would sprint in to play the ball and when they pulled back or missed (they never actually bunted it to him) he would raise his finger and shake it. It was reminiscent of Mutumbo when he would block someone and shake his finger. It was genius and quite funny. You could tell he still has fun playing the game even if he is at third.

Another interesting thing to see was the fan’s reaction to Brian Wilson. Since he always comes into stadiums during commercial breaks, you never get to see how the crowd reacts.  The biggest reaction the fans had to anything was when he came out of the left field bullpen.  The place went nuts. All the Giants fans went crazy and the boos were ridiculous. I loved it. I guarantee that Wilson loves it too. Fun to watch.

The demographics in the stands were a little surprising to me. There were so many Giants fans. Holy cow! I didn’t feel like a minority at all. I have been to plenty of games in other stadiums and felt like a tool for wearing a Giants hat. Not here. I’d say that 25% of the stands were Giants fans. That isn’t an exact stat, but just try to prove me wrong. It was bizarre. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about the number of fans. I’m not sure if they are all band wagon fans that jumped on after the World Series, but I like fans that have been through the hard times. Now, no Giant’s fan is a bad fan, it was just a weird feeling. It’s probably what it feels like being a Yankee or Red Sox fan, but it was a unique experience for me.

If you’re ever in the DC area, you should try to get out to the park. It’s a really fun place to watch a game. The fans are great, the stadium is very nice and the ticket prices are really good. We sat in the club level which may have been a mistake because I think I spoiled my wife. She loved the padded seats, the separate bathrooms and indoor “classy” food court.  Overall, it’s a great experience and I’d highly recommend it.

I also recommend that the Giants win every day.

(-JS)

Panic at the Frisco!


I just read Steve’s blog about not overreacting at the beginning of the regular season. Are you one of those people? I am! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not throwing in the towel on the Giants just yet. I just love riding the emotional rollercoaster of the baseball season. The season is 162 games. If I didn’t get emotionally invested on each game, I couldn’t hold interest in the entire season. My rational mind tells me that baseball doesn’t really matter in April, May and June. Obviously you can’t suck it up too bad, but if you can hang in there… well just look at the Rockies of 2007.  However, in order for me to be interested in April, May and June, I must overreact to everything. Does that make me a bad baseball fanNope! I think that makes me a great baseball fan. I live and die with every win and loss. Getting whipped by the Dodgers hurts just as much now as it does in September. I may be crazy; it’s just how I get through the season. 
 
PS. What a crappy opening weekend.  Hey, we’re still the champs!

(-JS)