Results tagged ‘ Tampa Bay Rays ’

My Rooting Ranking for the Eleven Teams Playing Past Game 162

Some people will have rankings once the field narrows down to ten. I am hardly ever in the mood to blog during the weekdays for various reasons, and so since I feel like writing right now, now is as good of a time as any to give you my list of how I’ll root for the Winning Eleven. My list might differ from yours, and it may not even make sense to you, but that’s OK.

“It’d be good for them” Division 

1. Pittsburgh Pirates — No playoffs and no winning season since 1992? How do you not root for that if you’re not a fan from a team within the NL Central?

2. Oakland Athletics — I have developed a soft spot for the team across the Bay, even though I don’t live there to listen to A’s fans. A’s fans coming back around to troll Giants fans would be the worst part of the Athletics winning. Possibility of speeding up ruling on a new stadium a naive thought in my head.

3. Tampa Bay Rays — A combination of youth, a former Long Beach State Dirtbag in Evan Longoria, and a manager I enjoy listening to make this a team I support at nearly all times.

4. Cleveland Indians — They normally lose a lot, and maybe the public can say to MLB, “Hey, that logo is kinda racist.” That they’ve turned things around to go from dark horse candidate to first Wild Card spot is a great story to me.

“I ain’t even mad” Division

5. Detroit Tigers — I’ve interacted with some twitter folk that are Tigers fans and they’re good people. I would be happy for them. Justin Verlander seems like a nice guy and Jim Leyland is a lovable grandpa.

6. Texas Rangers — This is a pity spot. I’ll leave it at that.

7. Boston Red Sox — I’ve put them here because I’ve forgotten what Red Sox fans are like when the Red Sox win. My memory is pretty poor.

“Nope” Division

8. Cincinnati Reds — The idea of Mat Latos winning after his history with the Padres and his outside-of-game antics against the Giants just leave a bad taste in my mouth. Billy Hamilton running wild on the world will be fun to watch.

9. St. Louis Cardinals — An incredibly talented team, I am tired of them winning and tired of their fans claiming to be the “Best Fans in Baseball.” Nobody likes people like that, especially when that’s pretty difficult to accurately measure. 

10. Atlanta Braves — The Chop, the newfound policy of policing the game with their made-up rules on admiring home runs make plenty of players on this team and their fans that support all that easy to despise.

“I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy that’s also an obnoxious, disrespectful Giants fan” Division

11. Los Angeles Dodgers — There are some players on the LA team I like, but it’s still the Dodgers. That they have oodles of money is one thing, I mean you have to spend your money wisely, can’t just spend it on anybody. Still. Boo Dodgers.

That #10 and #11 on my list square off early guarantee one gets knocked out, but one could still do some big things. Hopefully that’s not something I have to worry about, and the bottom four teams find themselves knocked out of the Postseason before the trophy is hoisted.

GIFPost: Alex Cobb K’s 13, balks in a run, lasts only 4.2 IP for Rays

Alex Cobb will not blow you away with his fastball, but the Padres will let you know that he does have strikeout stuff. The fourth place NL West Padres did get three runs off of Tampa Bay starter Alex Cobb, but in the 4.2 innings that Cobb threw, he would pile up the pitch count while striking out thirteen, and would even strike out four in the third inning and would allow a run as well.

Curveball at 81

Splitter at 86

Split at 85

Split at 86

Curveball at 81

Will Venable gets on and begins his distracting of Cobb… split in the dirt away at 86

Venable would successfully steal second on this K.. and would steal third

Carlos Quentin couldn’t check his swing on this 58 foot splitty

Notice Cobb gets set, then brings his arms down before he steps off the rubber. Correct call by the home plate ump.

Another split at 86

Screen Shot 2013-05-11 at 11.17.40 AM

 

 

Split at 87

Another splitter at 86

Really likes that splitter — 87

His last pitch? Aaaaanother splitter at 86.

This certainly was an odd outing to watch, as it always seemed like every at bat took at least seven pitches and this outing would have been really interesting had Cobb not had a pitch limit on him. How many would he have struck out if he had stayed in the game longer? Anybody’s guess, but the Padres did not seem to enjoy the split that Cobb was throwing last night. 

Postseason and Award Predictions: Don’t Worry, They’ll Be Wrong

The regular season begins this Sunday tomorrow at 5:05PM PST when the Texas Rangers play the Houston Astros in that famous AL West rivalry, which means this week is all about previews, bold predictions, and message board put downs. I will say I am not good at predicting things, so let’s get that straight. Like everybody else though, I have an opinion on the matter of how events will play out.  Let us preview the postseason, where the best team doesn’t always win due to the randomness of how the short series will go. It’s a first team to eleven wins once the DS begins, and normally the team that catches fire tends to do the celebrating. Also in my analysis, the team that scores more runs tend to win games. I’ll start with who I have going into the playoffs, then the predictions of the resulting postseason series. After that, I’ll go into regular season awards.

NL Playoff Seeding

1. Washington Nationals

2. Cincinnati Reds

3. Los Angeles Dodgers

4. Atlanta Braves

5. San Francisco Giants

Wild-Card Play-in Game

Atlanta beats San Francisco

NLDS

Atlanta beats Washington

Cincinnati beats Los Angeles

NLCS

Cincinnati beats Atlanta

AL Playoff Seeding

1. Detroit Tigers

2. Toronto Blue Jays

3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

4. Tampa Bay Rays

5. Texas Rangers

Wild-Card Play-in Game

Tampa Bay beats Texas

ALDS

Detroit beats Tampa Bay

Toronto beats LA of A

ALCS

Detroit beats Toronto

World Series (game will be in AL Park when AL wins ASG)

Detroit beats Cincinnati

Don’t worry Tiger fans, I’m sure my predictions won’t be correct!

—————————

Regular Season Awards

I will go into who the MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year for both leagues will be. These will also probably be wrong.

AL MVP — Mike Trout

Asking me if I’m mad, bro? Nah, not mad, but let’s say Mike Trout does even 80% of what he did in 2012 in 2013, and his team gets to the playoffs, the voters are going to give him his “redemption,” and feel good that “see, we don’t hate advanced stats,” as we roll our collective eyes together. Sophomore slump? Maybe a little, but the only thing that will stop this fish is if he gets hurt playing the game.

NL MVP — Justin Upton

They say a change of scenery can do wonders for a player, and how about playing with an organization that wants you? I’d say that’s a good start. I think Upton will have a career year, players like Braun and Posey will regress a little, and Upton will find his team in the playoffs. Justin Upton may not have the best year of everybody, but I think he gets the award.

AL Cy Young — Justin Verlander

Kind of like Trout, he’s only going to get stopped by an injury. He should continue to rack up the pitcher wins, satisfying the old school, and his team will make the playoffs all with lots of money, and lots of strikeouts. Probably not many multi-homer against games though. Verlander is just excellent.

NL Cy Young — Clayton Kershaw

Dickey was a great story in 2012, but I still side with the overall metrics a bit on Kershaw, believing he got snubbed by just a little bit, nothing too controversial. Kershaw, like Verlander, will be getting plenty of pitcher wins behind a boosted offense, and he’s still really, really good. Oh, and his team will be going to the playoffs so that equals instant votes.

AL Rookie of the Year — Jackie Bradley Jr. 

Shot up the prospect lists in 2012 into 2013, and is projected to start with the team. For the kid, the defense will be getting peoples attention, while the stick may not be able to do anything super special, it’ll be enough. Lots of names for both RoY awards, JBJ just happens to be my guess right now.

NL Rookie of the Year — Zack Wheeler

Wheeler will not come up until June and he’ll still get the award. Dominating the minors, and yes, I understand the pain he’s going to cause Giants fans, but the kid is good, and will be going after his opposition from the get-go with heat and curveballs and breaking balls and strikeouts.

Let’s hear what your predictions are! Pretty much anything goes before the season gets going.

AL East Division Preview: Where Easy Predictions Go To Die

The regular season begins this Sunday at 5:05PM PST when the Texas Rangers play the Houston Astros in that famous AL West rivalry, which means this week is all about previews, bold predictions, and message board put downs. I will say I am not good at predicting things, so let’s get that straight. Like everybody else though, I have an opinion on the matter of how events will play out. As I preview these divisions, I’ll tell you a little of what sport betting sites see, what computer simulations see, and what I see. The teams will be previewed in the reverse order I expect them to finish. Let us preview the AL East, which I am having an impossible time getting a read on, because you have so much talent on these rosters, but how does what happened last year translate to 2013? How will the players that won’t break with the club play a role with the big club in the summer? If you have an easy time predicting this division, I don’t think you’re looking at what this division’s got hard enough.

5. Boston Red Sox

Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 11/2, 14/1, 28/1

PECOTA’s projected three highest Wins Above Replacement Player for 2013: Dustin Pedroia (4.2), Jon Lester (3.4), Mike Napoli (2.9)

Stuart sees: a team that gets to hit the “reset” button with a new field manager, and names like Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Adrian Gonzalez going from Red Sox to Dodger Blue. Their lineup the way it is now isn’t bad, and their rotation after Lester and Clay Buchholz is where I wonder what happens. It is definitely more of a “I don’t know what will happen” feeling than a “this team is going to tank” one. The bullpen shouldn’t be horrible, and this club could have some big mid-season call-ups in guys like Jackie Bradley, Jr., Rubby De La Rosa, and Allen Webster. If this team got a playoff spot, I can’t say I’d be surprised, and I’ll be guilty of admitting that what they did in 2012 is playing into how I’ll think they do in 2013. This is not to suggest they will be an awful 5th place team, just the team that happens to be in that spot.

4. Baltimore Orioles

Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 15/2, 18/1, 35/1

PECOTA’s projected three highest Wins Above Replacement Player for 2013: Adam Jones (3.3), Nick Markakis (2.4), J.J. Hardy (2.2)

Stuart sees: a squad that probably over-achieved in 2012 and won’t see consistent success until that crop of pitchers graduate full-time to the majors. Yes, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, I am looking at you. Manny Machado was brought up last year to the surprise of many, but he is still there, and many are expecting he’ll be a force even if he’s not calling his position of SS home. It is good to hear Brian Roberts‘ name used in the day-to-day action, as opposed to about his recovering from a concussion. The bullpen is passable, and that lineup a little better than that with guys like Matt Wieters starting to come around. To get back to the playoffs, the Orioles will need that pitching staff to do better than they are projected to do, otherwise, it’s going to be the familiar role of cellar dwellers for them.

3. New York Yankees

Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 7/2, 9/1, 20/1

PECOTA’s projected three highest Wins Above Replacement Player for 2013: CC Sabathia (5.0), Robinson Cano (4.8), Mark Teixeira (3.7)

Stuart sees: people freaking out over the Yankees because Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, and Michael Pineda are all out for a while, even the Captain has been slowed down from his season-ending ankle injury. Giants fans know that they got their championships through their pitching (and timely hitting), so knowing the Yankees have Sabathia, and Hiroki Kuroda shouldn’t scare you off too much. Andy Pettitte, Ivan Nova, and David Phelps may not be the best money can buy, but you can do worse, and I think the Yanks have just enough bats to avoid getting into ALCS-bad shape. Then again, you’d have to be pretty bad to be in that shape. Again.

2. Tampa Bay Rays

Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 5/2, 8/1, 16/1

PECOTA’s projected three highest Wins Above Replacement Player for 2013: Evan Longoria (4.3), Ben Zobrist (4.1), David Price (4.0)

Stuart sees: young, strong pitching leading the rotation, and more on the way . While Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore may not blow the doors off the scene, an improvement for Moore in 2013 would spell trouble for the AL East in getting after the Rays. If the lineup doesn’t scare you yet, that’s OK, but once Wil Myers gets penciled in, that sound you’ll hear is the American League pitchers groaning. While Myers isn’t a Mike Trout or Bryce Harper, he is still a potential All-Star for the outfield, and not one of those “hey we need a guy from a team” All-Stars. The bullpen is led by archery and plantain specialist Fernando Rodney, and after that, it’s an affordable group of arms… “If only they had more financial resources and played in a market that cared,” we cry. If this team struggles and falls out of contention, the asking price for ace SP Price should be most interesting, because he’s probably taking a raise that the Rays won’t be able to offer in the offseason.

1. Toronto Blue Jays

Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 8/5, 15/4, 8/1

PECOTA’s projected three highest Wins Above Replacement Player for 2013: Jose Bautista (4.1), Jose Reyes (3.9), Josh Johnson (3.2)

Stuart sees: a team that saw what the AL East was putting out and decided it was time to push the chips in. Like it or not, the Blue Jays gave up some pieces to get the guys they brought in, including R.A. Dickey. Taking a risk on Melky Cabrera was probably not looked upon favorably by the public, but I like the move that was made and hope it works out, especially with the naive optimism it could spur a “maybe we don’t have the right idea about PEDs,” but that really is a pipe-dream on my part. The rotation has the potential to be lights out with the bullpen being my question mark for the team. That lineup is not going to be fun to face, but I will say this: if you hear this club made out to be some sort of Washington Nationals-level super-club, I don’t buy into that. I think they’re a tick above what the Braves put out. A short-term gamble (but not like trading Wheeler for Beltran short-term) that should see the playoffs being played again in Toronto. Milk bags for everyone!

A crazy and difficult set of predictions for the AL East, what are yours for this division (that I think could go a lot of different ways)?

Outside Perspective to the Sunday Night MegaDeal

For people that didn’t have much to do last night, General Managers Andrew Friedman and Dayton Moore gave the baseball folk something to talk/fight/cry about, reactions of course depending on what fanbase your heart was closest to. Should you be unfamiliar with the deals, it worked out to this:

The Kansas City Royals get:

The Tampa Bay Rays get:

If you want trade analysis from journalists and scouts, may I suggest three four: Dan Knobler’s, Keith Law’s, JJ Cooper from Baseball America’s, and Baseball Prospectus’, all good looks. As you’ll read, you’ll find the internet consensus is that the Rays won the trade with the snatching of Myers and Odorizzi. I tend to lean that way as well, but it’s not like the Royals 1) have no farm system left and 2) did not address a glaring need of their team to get better. As a Giants fan, if you were to build a team, based on two of the last three years, you’re probably leaning towards pitching first (or an MVP catcher, I guess), so getting what most people are calling a No. 2 starting pitcher in Shields to hopefully what is a beginning to bolster their rotation, is a big get for the Royals. Wade Davis will get another shot in the rotation, but they don’t have to leave Spring Training with him in it. Then again, their options outside of Davis aren’t much to write home about.

This can’t be the only move that Dayton Moore and his people do to get better, and it seems pretty clear that with their contracts soon to end, that they are very much on the hot seat in KC. The GM and his people will probably have to give up more from their farm to get some significant pieces, and make more significant progress to make up ground between them and whoever feels like leading the AL Central (Tigers? White Sox? Twins?)

The Rays should be fine, but replacing a James Shields isn’t the easiest thing to do. Matt Moore can make the transition easy if he takes another step forward, as could Chris Archer to help support Jeremy Hellickson‘s cause at the top of the rotation after David Price. Like a lot of other people, I’m waiting to see if Wil Myers gets one of those team-friendly six-year deals that will save the Rays some money (maybe an Extra 2% or something) so that they can continue to operate in a market that I really think isn’t fit for baseball.

Longo Goes Long-Term with Rays in Newest Contract Extension

Not every day you wake up to find out that a guy that went to the same undergrad institution you did signed a 6-year/$100MM contract extension, and that’s what Evan Longoria and the Rays have agreed to, per multiple internet sources. Here’s the quick twitter story on this extension:   The current details of his contract look like this, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts: So already with one team-friendly deal currently being worked, he signs another, and maybe him getting injured this year and playing only 74 games in 2012 was the best thing that could happen for the Rays affording Evan Longoria for the long term. In 2017 when Longo’s next contract begins, he will be entering his age-31 season, so it is very possible that he will end up being a Ray for life when all is said and done. This is an extremely team-friendly deal, and if you’re wondering why, consider the numbers for Evan Longoria among all MLB players from the 2008-2012 seasons: 20th in HR (130), 17th in SLG (.516), 24th in wOBA (.373), 15th in wRC+ (136), and has accumulated the 3rd highest fWAR (29.3). While he may not be putting up chart-toppers overall, those same numbers amongst 3B have him ranked 3rd, 2nd, 5th, T-2nd, and 1st, so the numbers tell you if Longoria wanted to wait, it is possible that he could have received more money. It would be unfair to bring up the counterpoint though that Tim Lincecum was offered a $20MM AAV package for five years and turned that money down, and maybe Evan decided that turning down $100MM wasn’t in his best interests.

Long Beach State now has three former-Dirtbag and current-MLB players signed to relatively long-term and rich deals in Troy Tulowitzki, Jered Weaver, and now Evan Longoria. Danny Espinosa should be the next former-LBSU guy on the list to get a long-term deal.

Former Losers Starting to Fill Some Seats

Sunday morning in Long Beach is a cool 70 degrees, and I can finally have the windows open before the heat of the sun evaporates the clouds to prepare for a day in the high-80’s. It could be worse.

I have no idea where my thoughts for this post came from, but I wanted to look at the average home attendance of teams we’re used to seeing lose, and Tampa Bay. I don’t know why I included them, but it’s probably because when I think of places that don’t fill seats very well, I think of the State of Florida. I guess I just put their data in to pick on them. I’m such a Florida bully.

Keep in mind the season’s not done, so the averages can still be changed a little bit, but nothing drastic like a 5,000-10,000 average attendance.

You’ll notice it goes from 2012 on the left to 2008 on the right. Am really not sure why Oakland was drawing what it was in 2008. They had Jack Cust hitting 30+ bombs, and that was the A’s. But, I think their fans understood that because attendance just dips then slowly goes back up to this year (with a healthy spike from ’11), with a real possibility to passing up 2008’s average home attendance. They’re going to have to get over things like drawing 20,342 on a Saturday night (yesterday), and a really pathetic 11,688 (Tues, Sept 4th vs. LAA) in the middle of a playoff chase to beat ’08’s numbers. Really, it is good to see teams like Pittsburgh and Baltimore start to fill their seats, but even the Pirates have had 19 home games under 20,000. For anyone that’s read up on Tampa, you know their stadium is horrible and is in a bad location to be accessed, so even when they win, they can’t get people out to their ballpark. I’m not making excuses for them, but they are contributing factors.

The next graph shows you how far ahead/back of a playoff spot the teams were as of September 1st of that year. I chose that date because by then, most fans have a pretty good idea of whether they should stay emotionally invested in the team, or start preparing for the NFL/NBA/NHL/NCAA season(s). True, they’ll have a better idea by a day like September 16th, but I imagine more can happen with attendance numbers in terms of averages if people know/feel their team is in it in that final stretch that is September/October.

What’s cool about this graph is that you look at 2008-2011, and see the majority of these teams (besides Tampa twice), and how they were pretty much out of it at the time (until the Boston collapse brings that Tampa team to the playoffs last year), and now all four of these low-drawing teams are very much in the race for a spot. That is exciting stuff as a baseball fan. In four years, maybe we’re mentioning the Astros, the Cubs (although they don’t draw all that poorly), the Royals, and the Padres like we are with these teams four-five years from now.

All four of these teams are seeing a spike in their attendance this year from last year, and I’m not going to say winning is the sole cause of it, but I’d bet it’s a pretty big reason. One cannot forget what the marketing and advertising teams do to bring fans in with promotions and such, but it’ll be interesting to see how much more of a spike in attendance these teams experience for the rest of the season, and even in 2013 if these teams can continue to be successful and fill the seats in the stands.

Let’s go baseball. *clap, clap, clap-clap-clap*

Guaranteeing Money for the Kids #SFGiants

Matt Moore on the left, got himself a guaranteed $14MM all before pitching a whole year in baseball

Earlier this morning Jerry Crasnick told us that Rays SP Matt Moore would be getting paid over a guaranteed 5 years, $14MM all before even throwing a full year in the bigs. He qualifies for the Rookie of the Year nomination next year and due to all the big names in his league, especially that division, he might not get the MVP consideration just yet. But if he pitches like he did against the Rangers, you never know. Anyway, here are the numbers for his deal:

If you’re thinking to yourself, “Boy, that’s not that much,” then that’s exactly it: it isn’t. This is one of the ultimate “team friendly” deals, very similar to the one teammate and Long Beach State alum Evan Longoria has signed himself. GM Andrew Friedman and his front office are full of geniuses. We all want them on our team… but what if Moore gets injured? That would suck, but $14MM over 5 years isn’t going to cripple an organization. What if Albert Pujols gets injured next year? Like Kendry Morales injured? Justin Morneau injured? Bad. Very, very bad. At the most, Matt Moore’s deal gets to 8 years $40.5MM and there’s probably some incentives sprinkled in there as well. What a deal, especially since the bulk of the money in that 8/$40.5 scenario is in the options. Team options. So it got some of us thinking: What if the Giants tried this? Who could they try it on? Could it work? What would be the structure of such a deal?

Fact of the matter is, with the core of the kids that are coming through their system at the Major League level, there’s really only one  realistic candidate in my eyes and that is: Madison Bumgarner. Panda needs to prove consistency, Posey got hurt, and Belt was abused by management. You could argue for some of the other guys but personally, I just think they need to prove themselves as a talent more. These kinds of team-friendly contracts can be a beautiful thing — giving the kids some guaranteed money that will have them set for life while giving your team a stud for the long-term by buying out the years they could potentially become Matt Cain-expensive. I’m going to try and take a look at the kids and see what might be a possibility. The following material is highly debatable and by no means what management is thinking.

Brandon Belt: The least likely of the kids to get extended. Some would argue Brett Pill’s more likely to be extended because he hit 1,000 RBI in AAA last year or something. Due to the new CBA and stuff, I’m not positive how long he’s under team control until. Let’s say it’s 2016 which gives us 5 years. If management were bold enough to give him an extension I feel it’d be a little lower than what Matt Moore got. My guess: 5 years, $12MM. Least likely to happen though. Remember that.

Buster Posey: More likely than Belt, less than Panda because we have a feel for Panda but with Posey’s injury what can we be sure of? His rehab is supposedly going well, but until Spring Training and the Regular Season begins, we won’t know how his body has recovered. Let’s assume 2010 Posey blesses us with his presence. He’s also a 2016er. ROY, hitting for power and even if he wasn’t safe in Game 1 in the NLDS, he still is amazing. My guess: 5 years, $35MM with options definitely attached.

Pablo Sandoval: Dude needs to stay in shape. And from what we’ve seen, when he’s in shape, he does good things. Plain and simple. Seems like he’s figured this out and since he really hasn’t had his payday yet. You could argue that a guaranteed deal might take the Kung Fu out of the Panda and make him less motivated but I don’t know about that. He’s here until 2014 at least. His first arbitration year is now. My guess for a deal: 4 years, $30MM with option for a 5th year at $15MM. Very unsure about this one.

Madison Bumgarner: This is the guy the Giants must try to lock up. Absolutely must. If Matt Moore can be locked up, so can Madison Bumgarner and that face he makes every time he delivers the ball. It will require more though. This is what I imagined for MadBum:

I didn’t get a response, but hey that’s how Twitter goes. I think this is what can be done though for the kid from North Carolina. Of the 4, the front office will probably try on MadBum the most, if any of them. I do doubt that any deals of the Matt Moore variety happen with the Giants, but it’d be nice to see for us since we’ve got to worry about saving money down the road.

Lock this face up for years in Orange and Black, says I

Today’s Debate: Rooting Order of Playoff Teams (different than @Baycityball)

BWBP

A different team will be crowned in 2011. We'll live with it.

Discussion and disagreement are part of sports life, and after reading a post from @BayCityBall (http://www.baycityball.com/2011/10/02/my-postseason-rooting-order/) I thought this would be a good post for today. The idea is of course, there are eight teams in the postseason and if we had to rank who you would root for, what would that order be? Everyone’s list will be different and who can blame them? There’s some attractive talent (both on the field and in the dugout) for us to be amazed and stupefied at.

1. Tampa Bay Rays – expansion team, lost to the Phillies in 2008, came from a huge deficit to defeat one of the more despised franchises in baseball. They have lovable characters like Evan Longoria, One-A-Day 50+ sponsor Joe Maddon, Madison Bumgarner pitch-a-like Matt Moore (alike in that the Rangers couldn’t touch either of them). Shoot, their version of Eli Whiteside even hit two HRs against CJ Wilson. Awesome

Rays Coach

They weren't supposed to be in the playoffs. Thanks to multivitamins, here they are.

2. Texas Rangers – When the Giants and the Rangers met up last year in 2010, you had a ratings nightmare: no Yankees? no Red Sox? no Phillies? We’ll just have Joe Buck and Tim McCarver do this one. Nobody’s watching, anyway. You also had two franchises starved for a World Series trophy. The Giants got their portion in 2010, but the Rangers were left hanging and from what I heard, the Rangers were very classy in defeat. Their exciting players are mostly hold bats and hit HRs for a living, their staff has the experience of winning so the jitters should be mostly out of the way.

Texas GM

Tempting to tab him as the Game 4 starter, right?

3. Detroit Tigers – The playoff team I probably know the least about. I guess they’re like the Tampa Bay Rays or a Texas Rangers-lite on offense and some other team with their pitching. Justin Verlander? Hot. Jose Valverde? He should make a dance instruction DVD. As for everyone else? Whatever, just beat the Yankees.

The other JV

Two JVs on one team? No wonder they're so good.

4.  St. Louis Cardinals – Just beat the Phillies, Tony La Russa. Use your craftiness when you get back home to even the series at 2 or something. Sprinklers, stadium lights, rain dance, Buffalo Wild Wings commercials, whatever. I laugh a little that Rafael Furcal is on this team.

Cards Coach

We're losing by 1 late in the game. Time for some "Tony Magic!"

5. Arizona Diamondbacks – They’re not far down on the list because I despise their team; really, I’m OK with them. Justin Upton, Chris Young, Aaron Hill, Kirk Gibson. I think he’s done a great job with the team and GM Kevin Towers a wonderful job rebuilding the bullpen. I don’t want them winning the World Series because I don’t know why, but I don’t. I may have this fear that winning the WS would convince idiots to vote Ian Kennedy for Cy Young even though it’s just a regular season award. Edit: Forgot that ballots are submitted before the post-season. Therefore, Kennedy performance in post-season will not change likelihood of getting Cy. Their twitter account is annoying as babies on a plane, by the way.

AZ Mgr

He's been straight up golden for the DBacks. Except in Game 1.

6. Milwaukee Brewers – I am very not fond of a certain player on their team that claims to have an alter-ego that rhymes with “Phony-Flush.” I do not want to see him happy. Does that make me a bad person? Probably, but no one’s perfect. I’m not too fond of Prince Fielder, either, but TofuMan doesn’t both me as much as the current CF. I like Ryan Braun. I like John Axford.

RB8

He's got a crazy long contract for a reason.

In between 6 and 7, please note that there’s a gap larger than the 6 hour drive from Long Beach to San Jose I have to endure at least twice a year.

7. Philadelphia Phillies – I have a strong dislike for the Phillies. They have become the Yankees of the NL. I will laugh at them in 2015 when they are still paying Ryan Howard $25MM to strike out with a sandwich in his mouth.

HA!

There, there, Ryan Howard. You'll have a chance to redeem yourself this year.

8. New York Yankees – Look, they have exciting players. They’re the freaking Yankees. But the only time you want a team like that to win is when: a) it’s your team or b) you’re playing a video game and you’ve constructed a super team that isn’t possible in real life and you don’t have to worry about hurting other people’s feelings.

DV

The Yankees, ladies and gentlemen.

In 2012, the list will be different. Buster ain’t havin’ it.

ALDS Game 1 Wrap: #Rays 9 vs. #Rangers 0

Funny that the game was delayed by about 90 seconds because Matt Moore was late in walking to the dugout from the bullpen and made CJ Wilson wait. But it wasn’t him would be playing mind games with CJ Wilson: it was his battery-mate Kelly Shoppach.

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Thank you for the meatballs, CJ Wilson! I will share these with your fans!

America got a view of the pitcher with the fewest big league starts before starting a Game 1 in Matt Moore who showed off his fastball at 95-98, changeup at 85-88 and curveball at 80-84. Unfair, right? The Rangers thought so, going 7 IP, allowing 2 H (both to Josh Hamilton), 2 BB, and getting 6 K’s. This would also be only the 3rd time this season they’ve been shutout at home.

CJ Wilson was using his fastball at 90-93, cutter at 87-88, changeup at 83-85, slider at 80-something, curveball at 76-79. Throw in another pitch while you’re at it, you lazy bum! However, all his pitches and all the shadows that were on the field though couldn’t save him from the Tampa offense that kept its offensive onslaught going from that 7-0 deficit they “wildly” overcame.

In the top of the 2nd, Ben Zoborist got hit on his right elbow/funny bone area that helped set up Johnny Damon’s 3-1 fastball blast to RF to get the first runs of the postseason in. It was very reminiscent of the last ALDS when Michael Young had that check swing debate then HR to CF in Tampa. Damon looked like he went, and anyone will tell you the dynamics of a 3-1 count vs. a 2-2 count are so very different. Matt Joyce would add a 2-out RBI single past two diving infielders into RF to pad their early lead to 3.

The top of the 3rd got Rangers fans booing as CJ Wilson threw a fastball in the up and outer edge over the plate in the zone and Kelly Shoppach punished that ball to the grass area for a 3-run shot that made it 6-0 and looked to put the ball out of reach. An Evan Longoria single up the middle and a bunt single on the 3B side by Ben Zoborist perfectly put down set up the 1st and 2nd situation for Damon (who would K), then Shoppach who ate that fastball up.

JH

Josh Hamilton caught the first pitch from Shannon Stone's son. Nice move by the Rangers there.

The Rangers had a hard time threatening the rook, getting Josh Hamilton to 2nd on a leadoff double in the 4th, but he eventually got tagged out on a bad baserunning decision on a ball in play to the SS.

The top of the 5th was going ever so smoothly for CJ Wilson, getting Longo and Zoborist then Damon got on with an E5 by Beltre on a high throw to Michael Young that made him leave the bag. What seemed like 10 minutes later, Shoppach had worked the count full and after pulling one way deep and way foul, he connected on another pitch up and there was no doubt about it.

The game fell into a lull with not much happening until the top of the 9th when Upton walked, Longoria singled, a wild pitch by Matt Harrison advanced both runners and with 2 outs the fans exited the stadium out of frustration so the Rays tacked on another run just to rub it in.

MM Good

He and Madison Bumgarner don't get what's so scary about the Texas Rangers lineup

Game 2 will matchup James Shields (16-12, 2.82 ERA, 11 CGs, 249.1 IP) from the Rays and Derek Holland (16-5, 3.95 ERA, 4 CGs, 198.0 IP) of the Rangers as the Rays try to go back home up 2-0. Will the visiting team win every game of this series AGAIN??

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