A Quick Guide To: #SpringTraining

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Spring Questions For All 30 Teams:

Will the Cubs live up to the rampant World Series expectations? Are the D-backs for real? Can David Price make his contract worth it? Are the Royals a dynasty in the making? Do the Blue Jays, Astros and Mets have staying power?

Spring Training preview materials will be loaded with these questions and more, but the obvious truth is that Spring Training itself can’t answer those questions. So the goal in this particular preview, mere days away from pitchers and catchers report dates, is to pose an actual, spring-specific question each Major League club is facing on the cusp of camp.

I’m dedicating this column to the memory of my friend and teammate Tom Singer, who suddenly passed away earlier this week. Tom was one of the more inquisitive and creative minds in the business, and I know he was looking forward to showing up at Spring Training camps and asking unique questions of his own.

Here we go….

NL East

Mets: How carefully should the young starters be eased into the season?

For the Mets, it will be a delicate balance between overworking and underworking Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard after they all saw significant innings increases due to the postseason run. Syndergaard jumped 65 2/3 innings from his 2014 total in the Minors, while deGrom and Harvey jumped 37 2/3 apiece. Because of injury, Steven Matz (15 2/3) didn’t see quite as big an increase, though he, like Syndergaard, is entering his first full Major League season, an adjustment in and of itself. These guys need to be properly prepared for the every-five-day grind, but they should also probably see a less rigorous spring workload than the typical big league starter.

Nationals: Is Trea Turner ready for the big leagues?

The Grapefruit League will be a great test of the Nats’ new-look infield. Anthony Rendon is moving back to his natural position at third base — a fine move in isolation (he grades out better defensively there than at second base). But some scouts believe Daniel Murphy would be far better suited at third than at second base and that Rendon is the better defensive option at second. And then, of course, there’s the big question at short, where the Nats’ options come down to a utility guy (Danny Espinosa) who has spent far more of his career at second, a light-hitting free-agent signee (Stephen Drew) and the top prospect (Turner), who has only played 212 games in what has already been a whirlwind pro career (including 27 with the Nats down the stretch in 2015). Lots of questions in this infield.

Marlins: Can Barry Bonds help Marcell Ozuna’s swing?

New manager Don Mattingly and new hitting coach Bonds pleaded with the front office to keep Ozuna despite the rampant trade rumblings and the disconnect between player and organization last season. Ozuna was one of eight players identified as above-average in each of the five-tool categories by Statcast™, so the potential is off the charts. But his decline in production last season — leading to a controversial stay in Triple-A — was as swift as it was stunning, and spring is an important time for Ozuna and Bonds to develop a positive working relationship.

Braves: Will Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn open any eyes with their spring at-bats?

It’s no secret the Braves would love to move one or both of these guys. So they are destined to receive a steady dose of Grapefruit League at-bats as the Braves try to garner enough interest for a salary dump swap. With Freddie Freeman working his way back from a wrist injury, perhaps Swisher will see some time at first base.

Phillies: Is Tyler Goeddel the next Odubel Herrera?

Last year, Herrera arrived as a Rule 5 Draft pickup and wound up leading the Phillies in WAR (and yes, that says as much about the Phils as it does Herrera). Now, Goeddel is the marquee Rule 5 Draft addition (the first overall pick). That he’ll make the big league club is a foregone conclusion, because the Phillies have nothing to lose by keeping him. The question is how much the athletic but unpolished Goeddel will separate himself from Aaron Altherr, Peter Bourjos and Cody Asche in the battle for playing time in Pete Mackanin’s lineup.

AL East

Blue Jays: Will Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion agree to extensions?

In the lead-up to Opening Day, the new-look front office will have to weigh the attraction of satiating the fan base and ensuring stability in the long-term lineup against the obvious risks that come with power hitters in their mid-to-late-30s. These discussions will take place when all parties arrive in Dunedin, Fla., later this month.

Yankees: CC Sabathia or Ivan Nova?

The last rotation spot is the lone source of genuine positional intrigue in Yankees camp. (That said, Starlin Castro’s continued immersion at second base and first-ever trial at third base, where the Yanks might need him as a Chase Headley backup, is interesting). Sabathia is the former Cy Young Award winner coming off a homer-prone year that ended in alcohol rehab. Nova is the Tommy John alum the Yanks tried to trade. General manager Brian Cashman has said Sabathia’s $25 million salary wouldn’t preclude the Yanks from sticking CC in the bullpen if somebody else (Nova is the obvious candidate, though Bryan Mitchell is another) wins the job outright.

Orioles: What’s the outlook for the outfield?

They’re reportedly making progress with Yovani Gallardo to fill a big hole in the rotation, so let’s focus on the outfield here. Big-bodied Hyun-soo Kim, fresh off signing a two-year contract with the O’s, will arrive from South Korea and try to prove he has the range and athleticism to handle the everyday left-field assignment. Adam Jones was tasked with covering a ton of outfield ground last year, and his performance tailed off in the last two months of the season. At the moment, right field likely belongs to Nolan Reimold, though an O’s team familiar with in-spring splashes could still sign somebody to support or replace him.

Rays: Will James Loney, Desmond Jennings or Brandon Guyer be moved?

It’s a question that presumes a healthy camp, of course, but it would solve a logjam. Dealing Loney would allow Logan Morrison and Steve Pearce to share first, Corey Dickerson to spend the bulk of his time at DH and Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier and Steven Souza Jr. to provide dependable defense in the outfield, with Guyer as a bench option vs. lefties. Or the Rays could move Jennings or Guyer and open up more at-bats for Pearce and Morrison. Whatever the case, one presumes the Rays would be seeking relief help in any deal involving their position player depth.

Red Sox: Can Hanley Ramirez handle first base?

The Red Sox don’t have any position battles, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have position issues. Hanley’s position switch last year — from shortstop to left field — wasn’t subjected to any truly challenging plays during the spring schedule, but obviously the ball is going to find him at first. Because they’re paying Ramirez a ton of money, the Red Sox have no choice but to hope this works — and the same goes for Pablo Sandoval at third. The Panda’s physical condition will, naturally, be a spring storyline all its own.

NL Central

Cardinals: What is Yadier Molina’s timetable?

Molina will spend camp’s early days not swinging the bat or catching bullpen sessions, but building strength back up in his left thumb after having a second surgery this winter. Because there’s no telling how long that process will take and how much it will affect his season preparation, it’s hard to know if Molina will be ready by Opening Day. To say getting him back in a timely matter is important for the Cards is, of course, an understatement.

Pirates: How well is Jung Ho Kang progressing?

Because of the division’s demands, the decisions to deal Neil Walker and non-tender Pedro Alvarez, and the lack of additions of bankable depth options, the Pirates can ill-afford any medical setbacks for Kang, who suffered a fractured tibial plateau and torn lateral meniscus on an ugly takeout slide by Chris Coghlan last September. The move to third base (with Jordy Mercer at short and Josh Harrison replacing Walker at second) will limit Kang’s lateral movement when he returns. As of now, the Pirates are expecting him back in April, with Sean Rodriguez (last seen assaulting a water cooler) filling in and Minor League free agent Cole Figueroa competing for a bench job.

Cubs: Can Kyle Schwarber improve in left field?

As much as we love this Cubs lineup, there’s no denying there are defensive concerns in the outfield, where Jorge Soler had some surprising struggles in ’15, Jason Heyward is moving from right to center and, most importantly, Schwarber was a mess during the NLCS. Schwarber has been working on his first step and flexibility this winter, and that work will be put to the test in Arizona. But his efforts in left coincide with his work behind the plate, where he still hopes to remain an option long-term. Combine all of this with Schwarber’s bid for more at-bats against left-handed pitching, and the kid’s got a lot on his plate.

Brewers: How’s Ryan Braun feeling?

Not that the Brewers are making an earnest effort to contend in 2016, but Braun could stillpotentially play himself into a viable trade chip (provided the Brew Crew is willing to eat some cash, of course) if he’s healthy and producing the way he did for much of ’15. Braun had surgery for a herniated disc in the offseason, but he won’t have a clear idea of how well his back is responding until the regular swings that come in the Cactus League.

Reds: Will a market develop for Jay Bruce?

He only remains in Cincinnati as a function of the unusually deep and late-developing free-agent outfield market this winter, because the Reds, now in full-on rebuild mode, were motivated to move him. Most likely, Bruce will start the season with the Reds and try to piece together enough of a bounce-back campaign to become July trade bait. But all it takes is one spring injury elsewhere to suddenly make the idea of dealing for Bruce more palatable for a contending club. The Reds also have to hope Zack Cozart’s grisly knee injury last year hasn’t affected his defense at short, because he, too, could play himself into trade-chip status.

AL Central

Royals: Can Christian Colon steal playing time from Omar Infante?

In the third year of a four-year deal, Infante will make $7.75 million, and there was a time when that fact alone would settle him into a starting spot for this small-market club. But you might have noticed things are a little different in the realm of the Royals these days, and they’re calling this a legitimate position battle between Infante and Colon, who drove in the winning run in the World Series Game 5 clincher. (Top prospect Raul A. Mondesi will also get consideration but is far more likely to start the season in the Minors). Sure, the Royals are paying Infante a good amount of money, but, hey, they took Colon ahead of Matt Harvey in the 2010 Draft! One way or another, they’ll look for better returns on both of these investments.

Twins: Will Miguel Sano stick in right?

Byung Ho Park’s transition to the bigs is also a major matter in Minnesota, but Sano’s defensive work — directly related to Park’s arrival — will be a more pressing spring concern. Torii Hunter will be in camp as a special assistant to work with the 6-foot-4 Sano in the outfield, and the Twins’ lineup alignment demands that this experiment be successful. Sano was tasked with dropping 20 pounds this winter. Citing a desire to maintain his power, he dropped just five. He’s agile for his size, but this is undoubtedly a big test for him.

Indians: Will Michael Brantley continue his rapid recovery?

He’s the key to the whole darn thing for an Indians team projected by FanGraphs to have the best record in the division despite a less-than-dynamic winter. Brantley didn’t have surgery on his lead shoulder until early November, which means you can count him out for Opening Day and likely all or most of April. But because his recovery has progressed so well so far, Brantley must avoid the temptation to do too much too soon, lest he suffer a setback that crushes a Tribe club already prone toward slow starts.

White Sox: What’s up at short?

Tyler Saladino played terrific defense at third base for the Sox down the stretch last season, but his 68 OPS+ detracted from his value. So it’s an open question whether he’s ready for prime time at a prime spot, and he could be pushed in camp by top prospect Tim Anderson. The other, still-lingering question here is whether the Sox will wind up too tempted by Ian Desmond’s reduced price tag to pass him up. With a protected top-10 Draft pick, the White Sox are better positioned to sign Desmond than many others in the market.

Tigers: Can Bruce Rondon work his way into the bullpen plans?

Well, obviously we’ll be playing close attention to the statuses of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. But they’ve both had a healthy offseason, so, at this point, there’s little reason to doubt they’ll be in the Opening Day lineup and, hopefully, ready to produce. But Rondon’s dismissal from the club due to a lack of effort makes him an interesting figure in camp. The Tigers’ bullpen has a new closer in Francisco Rodriguez and better balance overall, but there’s always room for a motivated flamethrower. We’ll soon learn for sure if Rondon is committed to winning the respect of his teammates.

NL West

Dodgers: Will Hyun-Jin Ryu be ready by Opening Day?

And if so, what does that mean for fellow lefty Alex Wood? The Dodgers have assembled rotation depth to allow Ryu to ease into action, rather than rush back from labrum surgery. So the most likely outcome is that he starts the season in extended Spring Training or on a rehab assignment. But the Dodgers could also be tempted to take advantage of Wood’s ability to be optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Giants: How is Joe Panik’s back?

He’s 25 years old and coming off an All-Star season. But that season was cut short by back woes. Doctors have not discovered any structural damage, so Panik did not have surgery. But only time and performance will dictate whether this will be a persistent problem for a club all too familiar with back issues involving their second basemen (see: Sanchez, Freddy and Scutaro, Marco).

D-backs: Can Yasmany Tomas acquit himself in the outfield?

In their bold bid to take a major competitive step forward, there’s no denying the D-backs sacrificed defense by involving Ender Inciarte in the Shelby Miller swap. The question is how much. Tomas enters the year as an everyday corner outfielder (Arizona is still unsure whether he’ll remain in right or swap spots with left fielder David Peralta) after proving he can’t handle the hot corner. Tomas has indicated he’s more comfortable in right field, though the D-backs might prefer to have the better defender there and use this spring to get Tomas acclimated to left. And oh by the way, Tomas, who had a .707 OPS last season, needs to hit, too.

Padres: Can Andrew Cashner limit walks and neutralize lefties?

Yeah, yeah, the spring results don’t matter. But scouts are in the stands for a reason. Cashner is a guy with ace-quality potential when he’s right — and that’s a big deal for a Padres team either hoping to surprise some people in the NL West or use Cashner as a valuable trade piece midseason (or even sooner). Last year, Cashner’s effectiveness against left-handed hitters spiraled (.383 wOBA vs. a .294 mark a year earlier), and his overall walk rate jumped to 8.2 percent.

Rockies: What will Jose Reyes’ punishment be?

In invoking punishments under the sports’ domestic violence policy for the first time, Commissioner Rob Manfred has big decisions to make with Reyes, Yasiel Puig and Aroldis Chapman. But Reyes is the only member of that group who is facing a criminal procedure. He has pleaded not guilty to domestic abuse charges, and his trial is slated to begin April 4 (Opening Day, of course). Manfred can make his decision independent of those proceedings, and there’s no telling how stiff the penalty will be. Reyes is the Rockies’ highest-paid player and a guy they hoped would rebuild his offensive value (and, ergo, his trade value) at Coors Field. Right now, there’s no way of knowing when or if he’ll be on the field in 2016.

AL West

Rangers: Can Jurickson Profar get back in baseball shape?

We’ll venture away from the obvious intrigue surrounding Yu Darvish’s timetable, because, by all accounts, he’s still on track for a May return. Profar provides intrigue of his own. This is a guy who was once considered the top prospect in the game, but hasn’t played a single inning in the field the last two years because of shoulder issues that eventually required surgery. Profar’s bat action as a designated hitter in the Arizona Fall League caught the attention of scouts, and several teams contacted the Rangers in an attempt to buy low on the middle infielder. The Rangers wisely held onto him, and they’ll ease him back into action in the field this spring. His odds of making the big league club are slim to none, barring injury to somebody else. But the Rangers are about to see if Profar can emerge as an important depth piece in their bid to win the AL West again.

Astros: Will Evan Gattis be ready for Opening Day?

It was revealed this week that Gattis required surgery for a sports hernia, sidelining him for four to six weeks. That’s going to hurt his ability to get his timing back before the end of Grapefruit League play, so the Astros will dole out more playing time to Jon Singleton, Matt Duffy, A.J. Reed, Tyler White and Preston Tucker. While the Astros, in letting Chris Carter walk, might generally be trying to get away from the all-or-nothing approach that was one of their calling cards in ’15, Gattis is still clearly a key cog in this offense. He was also hopeful of increasing his value to the team beyond his DH duties, losing weight and doing catching drills in the offseason.

Angels: What’s Albert Pujols’ timetable?

The Angels are getting crushed in many corners for not doing more to improve their production potential around Mike Trout, opting instead for a more contact-heavy approach. Maybe the Halos have it right, but there’s little denying that their lineup look demands healthy and productivity from Pujols, who is working his way back from November surgery on the plantar plate of his right foot. Pujols is already hitting off a tee but is not expected to resume full baseball activities until March, putting Opening Day in jeopardy. Pujols rushed back to action too quickly in 2013, to the point that it affected his performance, and the Angels don’t want that to happen again.

Mariners: Can James Paxton win a rotation spot?

Technically, it’s Taijuan Walker, Nate Karns and Paxton for two spots, though you’d have to imagine the 29 starts and the progress Walker made as ’15 evolved give him the inside edge on one of those. Karns was Dipoto’s first addition in a busy offseason, but Paxton is the guy who was long lauded as one of the M’s prominent prospects. Injury issues have limited Paxton to 30 career starts over parts of three Major League seasons, but the left-hander has dropped some pounds and will come to camp intent on proving he’s ready to turn his potential into production. Other guys potentially in the mix for that last spot are Mike Montgomery, Joe Wieland and Vidal Nuno. Paxton seemingly has the most upside of those options, but he’s got to earn it.

Athletics: What is the rotation beyond Sonny Gray?

Oakland has probably one of the most — if not the most — unsettled rotation situations in the big leagues. The A’s signed Rich Hill with the intent of inserting him into the rotation, though he hasn’t been a regular starter at this level since 2009. After Gray and Hill, it’s a wide-open competition involving Kendall Graveman, Jesse Hahn, Chris Bassitt, Sean Nolin and possibly even Jarrod Parker (who is attempting to come back from two elbow surgeries) and Sean Manaea (a promising trade acquisition who hasn’t pitched above Double-A but who manager Bob Melvin has called a “wild card” in the rotation battle). Should be fun to watch this evolve.

Source: A Spring Training question for all 30 MLB teams.

Power Ranking All 30 MLB Starting Rotations Entering 2016 Spring Training:

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Rejoice! Spring training is almost upon us, bringing to an end what has been a hectic offseason, one that saw a slew of starting pitchers change uniforms, whether via free agency or trade. Keeping up with what your favorite team’s rotation looks like, much less the competition’s, has been challenging at times.

Read: Power Ranking All 30 MLB Starting Rotations Entering 2016 Spring Training

Get Ready for the Dixie Championship: #TNF

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1. Canadian Club

Chaos and self-destruction, is what is commonly viewed from the perches of the Coliseum.  A half-inning of baseball, the bottom of the 7th, took 53 minutes and went from riotous to invictus, with tension and emotion swung wildly like the swing that won the game.

SCENE: Rougned Odor is on 3rd and Shin-Soo Choo is at the plate – in the batters box – when Russell Martin attempts to throw the ball back to the pitcher, but instead hits Choo’s bat.  The umpire waves dead ball, the Blue Jays stop play and Odor scores.  The Umpires deliberated and concluded the run scored because:  Rule 6.01 (d) (3.15)
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It was the right call, and after it was confirmed the fans went nuts.  One to many Mooseheads and Canadians can become some real Ugly Americans – who knew.  The Blue Jays said they’d play under protest and the Rangers forgot how to make 3 routine plays that would have ended the inning and instead let @joeybats19 park one into the same section Joe Carter did in ’93.  This is what #KarmicResponsibility is all about folks, and it’s all on the Texas Governor…(see #2)
  • The Bizarre (Legal) Play That Almost Started a Riot – When Russell Martin‘s throw back to the pitcher hit Shin-Soo Choo, and Rougned Odor raced home to score the go-ahead run, the pages of baseball’s rule book fluttered open across America and Canada. A stunned silence in the park hid the grinding of gears behind the masks, and in baseball’s offices — was that strange, strange play… legal?  Yes, it turns out. To the consternation of the fans, who began to litter the field with debris. Twitter, the announcers, the fans — it was bedlam……(continue reading)

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2. We’ll Wire The Governor

You see it is the Governor who is at fault for no teams from Texas advancing to the ALCS.  That pompous tweet was sent before the Royals scored six runs to win Game 4, leading to game 5 and also before the Rangers got their butts kicked at home, to then play a game 5 on the road in Toronto, (see #1).  The Royals beat the Astros last night and now will play the Blue Jays in the #ALCS; while the Rangers will have to sacrifice a live rooster to remove that jinx.  No Astros.  No Rangers.  Recall!

In this Era of the New Dumb, idiots can never be under-estimated.  Like cockroaches, they are hard to kill and will be around long after we’ve left this ethereal 3rd Stone from the Sun.  What we do know for certain is no matter how tonight’s Dodgers/Mets game turns out – the World Series will definitely be Blue.

  • Johnny Cueto dominates, Royals beat Astros to return to ALCS – Johnny Cueto woke up Wednesday morning, feeling completely different than any day these last three tortured months, suddenly overcome with a sense of confidence.  Cueto drove to Kauffman Stadium, walked towards his Kansas City Royals’ teammates, and told them that in the biggest game of their season, to go ahead and relax……(continue reading)


3. 2015 Dixie Championship pt.1

Tonight, it’s the Southern Showdown.  The NFL’s most bitter, hated, rivalry with nothing on the line but pride and prejudice.  The first two franchises in the traditional “Deep South” have shared players; Morten Anderson (leading scorer in both franchises), Bobby Hebert (QB for both teams in the ’90’s), Joe Horn, Curtis Lofton, etc…and we have also shared sons of coaches, like Jim L Mora and Wade Phillips – sons of Jim and Bum – soon we will share Stadium Names – and we both have been to Superbowls, but only one of us lost to the Broncos…sinner.

For more than 40yrs, fans of either team have considered the other their most hated opponent.  Even ESPN’s Len Pasquarelli said this rivalry is one of the best in sports:

Every year, bus caravans loaded with rowdy (and usually very inebriated) fans make the seven-hour trip between the two cities. Unless you’ve attended a Falcons-Saints debauchery-filled afternoon, you’ll just have to take my word for how much fun it really can be

Records do not matter.  For the Falcons, they will want to beat down the Saints and crush all the hope that is left in an already dismal season.  God’s Army will want to stop a 2-game losing streak to c’Antlanta and give the Dirty-Birds their 1st taste of humble pie for 2015.  The Falcons overall, lead the series all-time 49-43, but since Drew and Sean got together the Saints are 13-5 against the Dirty-Birds, and tonight its gonna be a Duck-Hunt!

 

What You Need To Know for Both #ALDS Game 5’s Today – #OwnOctober

1. I Got a Feevah, For More Baseball

It doesn’t matter that the Cubs were 0-11 All-Time in the post-season, if they lost the first game of the series.  It doesn’t matter that the Cubs were 0-4 All-Time in series clinching games, at home.  It didn’t matter when they won their first game giving up 3 HR’s to the opposing team in the post-season.  It just doesn’t matter – anymore.

It feels different today doesn’t it?  Beating the Cardinals, overcoming history, it all feeeels different, right?!  I’m not a Cubs fan, but are friends with many, and although the AltX.Logo.whitemoment feels good now and things have been accomplished that have never been done before – you just hope, and have a lot of prayer, to make it thru the witchcraft that has been your history.  But man for right now, enjoy this, just know, you are not thru the woods yet Cubs fan – hopefully no one goes and gets a tattoo or anything else that might upset your #KarmicResponsibility.  There’s still more games to play.

  • Meanwhile, how about Theo Epstein – should he be the focal point of Moneyball 2: Curse Killer?
  • How about today’s games, both Game 5 showdowns.
  • Harold Reynolds must be as popular in Toronto as Chase Utley is in New York, right?
  • It’s awesome that beginning this afternoon, we’ll have two elimination games
  • Gotta love this October so far, eh?

Here is a preview of the games between the Rangers/BlueJays and the Astros/Royals.  Remember to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter – there are a lot more nuggets of info that we don’t have time to always prepare for you here – and as always tell your friends – share us with the world:

  • ALDS Game 5 previews: It’s win or go home for all four AL playoff teams

    For just the third time in the wild-card era, both American League Division Series have come down to a single-elimination Game 5. In the entire history of best-of-five playoffs in Major League Baseball, there have been 36 series that went a full five games; exactly half of those series have been won by the team that failed to clinch in Game 4, and one shy of half (17 of 36) have been won by Game 5’s home team. Momentum and home field advantage have proven meaningless.

    The American League Championship Series starts Friday night and could still consist of any of four matchups. By midnight tonight, we should know which of those four pairs will indeed be playing for the pennant……(continue reading)

 

 

What You Need To Know: Tuesday

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Click – to see for yourself

1. Did Phillip Rivers Just Punch a Bird?

In what may be the second greatest mystery of the internet, just behind that white dress, that wasn’t really white – we have this – Did Phillip Rivers punch a bird…in mid-air?  No, because that would have been amazing and near impossible.  I had to watch it 20 times myself to realize, it’s only a glove.  Another mystery solved, eh Scoob?

Aside from that, the Monday Night Football Game was a great one for 15min – the last 15min – the previous 45min was enough to make a man want to retire in mid-season, (more on that below).  But the action in the 4th quarter was outstanding and the finish…Woo Hoo.  How about those cajones for Mike Tomlin with five seconds left? #Brass.  Way to pull out your inner-Les Miles, Mike – for the Chargers, that’s a heart-breaker.

Considering, Philip Rivers threw for 365 yards against the Steelers in a losing effort, completing two touchdown passes, both to Antonio Gates, playing in his 1st game back from a suspension—(Rivers has now thrown 74 touchdown passes to Gates in their 12 years together as Chargers teammates. That’s the most TD passes from a QB to a teammate in Chargers history, as well as the highest career total for any quarterback to a tight end. Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski rank second on that latter list, having hooked up for 57 TD passes in their six seasons together on the Patriots)—The Packers know how you feel Chargers, because the last time a Monday Football game ended on the last play in regulation was this:


2. This Post-Season has been En Fuego!

Awww New York.  The best revenge is to score a lot of runs and you did that, making quick work of an early 3-run deficit – scoring 10 runs over 3 innings – eventually winning 13-7 over the Dodgers.  Now about Utley and your chants to see him enter the game after the 5th inning – I get it your upset.  This slide…is against the rules, that are loosely interpreted based on the emotional intelligence of a guy in a little hat – he started his slide after 2nd base – that’s a no-no – but it is nothing any player hasn’t done to break up a double play – a double play Tejada knew he wasn’t going to get.  Tejada gets a broken leg and Utley gets a suspension.  The suspension seems to do more with the broken leg than the act, and an over-reaction.  The question for me is this:  How does Utley get suspended on a play that was “illegal”, but was not enough to be called interference and an automatic double play?   I’ll let this guy explain:

  • WAS UTLEY’S SUSPENSION WARRANTED? – All you can hope for out of any postseason series — other than your team winning, of course — is to have it not be sidetracked by anything other than the quality of the two teams playing each other and the result of their conflict. You don’t want to lose, but if you lose, you want to lose clean. You just want people to be talking about the game itself……(continue reading)

More Baseball Thoughts I can not put anywhere else:

  • The Cubs have NEVER won a post-season series when they lost the first game, 0-11 ALL-TIME.
  • Before Game 2, the CUBS NEVER won a game when the other team hit 3 HR’s – they finally won one.
  • The Cubs are 0-4 ALL-TIME when clinching a series at home.
  • The Cubs just set a new post-season record for most home runs in a game with 6.
  • Strange things are afoot at the Circle K – but surely the Cubs will find a way to snatch defeat – right?  Theo Epstein can’t erase two curses in our lifetime, right?

Huge day for Correa

Prior to the Royals’ comeback in the eighth inning, Minute Maid Park was home to the “Carlos Correa Show.” The Astros shortstop tallied hits in all four of his at-bats – a game-tying home run in the third inning, a go-ahead RBI double in the fifth, a two-run homer in the seventh, and a single to lead off the
ninth. Correa, who celebrated his 21st birthday last month, became the youngest player to record at least four hits and four RBIs in a postseason game.AltX.Logo.white

  • The only other player to achieve that feat before his 25th birthday was Goose Goslin, who was 23 at the time of his four-hit, four-RBI game in Game Four of the 1924 World Series for the Senators.
  • Correa is also the youngest to record three extra-base hits in a postseason game, and he’s the second-youngest player with a multi-homer game in the postseason – Andruw Jones was 19 at the time of his two-homer performance for the Braves in Game One of the 1996 World Series versus the Yankees.

Royals save season with late comeback against Astros

Facing a four-run deficit with six outs to play in their season, the Royals exploded for five runs in the top of the eighth inning to come away with a 9-6 victory over the Astros and send the series back to Kansas City for a deciding fifth game. If any team was capable of a comeback like this it was the Royals – Kansas City enjoyed a similar comeback in the Wild Card game against the A’s last year, erasing a four-run deficit in the eighth and ninth innings before emerging victorious in the 12th inning.

So to recap, the Royals have overcome a four-run deficit in the eighth inning or later to stave off elimination in the postseason in back-to-back years. No other major-league team has ever forged a comeback of that kind in the postseason when facing elimination. In fact, only eight other teams have overcome deficits of four-or-more runs at any point of a postseason victory that staved off elimination, and none of those eight teams have more than one such win.

  • By the way, the first team ever to win such a game was the 1919 Chicago White Sox (Black Sox), who overcame a 4-0 Cincinnati lead to win Game Six of the World Series, 5-4, in 10 innings, cutting the Reds’ Series lead to four games to two. (That Series was played in a best-of-nine format.) The Sox produced the winning run in the top of the tenth on hits by Buck Weaver, Shoeless Joe Jackson and Chick Gandil – each of whom was later barred from the game by Commissioner Landis.

3. Straight Ca$h Homie…

Using our info and Beckwith’s daily information – I won 75% of the tournaments I entered.  If you would have read the Projection 2 Spend Report – your lineup would have scored over 200pts, just by selecting the green guys.  As for DC*3PO‘s picks for the NFL, he took a slide backwards, thanks to Tennessee and Oakland, but was still a decent 58% ATS – and a phenomenal 70% ATS for the college games I picked for him.  I lost a 15-teamer on Saturday because of two overs not coming in – Cal/Utah and FU/Mizzou – Cripes, but i’ll take 86% everytime – just need that 100% once.  Become a member today and lt us Teach You How To #win – here are the Perfect Lineups for #NFL week 5:

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draftkings

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In Closing…

I’ll let Pat Forde describe the wierdness that was College Football yesterday…

  • Forde-Yard Dash: Taking stock of college football’s coaches after a bizarre Monday  We’re not yet to mid-October, and already four head coaches have been fired. A legendary fifth abruptly retired Monday night. A sixth just came back from a three-game suspension. In a sport with increasingly more money at stake, the pressure on the men leading the programs has escalated accordingly……(continue reading)

Is the Taylor Swift Curse Real?

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1. At Any Price?

Home Teams in the playoffs are now 0-4, and apparently there is a Taylor Swift 1989 tour going around spoiling the fun – Read more about it here.  Take Note Ranger Fan, Swift-y plays in Arlington a week from tomorrow.  As for David Price, he let Rougned Odor and Robinson Chirinos go deep – they are the #8 and #9 hitters – Price is now 0-6 all-time in the #MLBPostseason.  Randy Johnson once lost 7 in-a-row, but I do not see Price changing his spots anytime soon.

The Baseball post-season is now in full-swing – today we have 4 games, and with that, the last time we will have this many games in one day, for the rest of 2015, I suspect.  The BlueJays try to get back on track and maintain their title of most explosive team.  The Cards are ready to spill blood, while the Cubbies are continuing to sacrifice more goats at the alter to the Baseball Gods.  ‘Stros and Royals play again, and Kershaw tries to right his ship in the post-season and be the best Madison Bumgarner he can be.  Kershaw needs this post-season to be as good as the regular season has been – otherwise he becomes Peyton Manning.  Here’s the schedule of todays games, (all times EASTERN), along with NLDS previews, and a final “Here’s To You”, to Vin Scully who won’t even be listed as “the player to be named later” portion of the broadcasts – he’s out – But if Kirk Gibson can hit a homerun on one-leg, surely Vin can come back for a Game 7 in the World Series – right?!

Rangers-Blue Jays, Game 2

MLB 12:45 p.m.

Astros-Royals, Game 2

FS1 3:45 p.m.

Cubs-Cardinals, Game 1

TBS 6:45 p.m.

Mets-Dodgers, Game 1

TBS 9:45 p.m.

KershawCespedesNLDS PREVIEW: METS VS. DODGERS

No playoff series feels as immense as the Dodgers-Mets National League Division Series. It’s gonna be a bad scenario for whichever team loses.  If the Mets lose, this dream season that has reinvigorated a discouraged fan base ends with a whimper. It also ends on the eve of an uncertain tomorrow. The Mets have had this lovely couple of months, but it doesn’t change their financial situation; ownership has……(continue reading)

Schedule

• Game 1: Friday, Oct. 9, 9:30 p.m. ET, Dodger Stadium, TBS (Clayton Kershaw vs. Jacob deGrom)
• Game 2: Saturday, Oct. 10, 9 p.m. ET, Dodger Stadium, TBS (Zack Greinke vs. Noah Syndergaard)
• Game 3: Monday, Oct. 12, TBD, Citi Field, TBS (Brett Anderson vs. Matt Harvey)
• Game 4 (If necessary): Tuesday, Oct. 13, 8 p.m. ET, Citi Field, TBS (TBD vs. TBD)
• Game 5 (If necessary): Thursday, Oct. 15, 8 p.m. ET, Dodger Stadium, TBS (TBD vs. TBD)

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NLDS PREVIEW: CUBS VS. CARDINALS

So, the apocalypse series is here. The Cubs, the hottest, most beloved, most exciting team in baseball, are at last culminating their long, long rivalry with the Cardinals with a postseason series. I’ve written so much about these two teams — I wrote a freaking book about them, for crying out loud — that to see them actually face off in an elimination series is almost too terrifying to wrap my mind around. Just know that……(continue reading)

Schedule

• Game 1: Friday, Oct. 9, 6:30 p.m. ET, Busch Stadium, TBS (John Lackey vs. Jon Lester)
• Game 2: Saturday, Oct. 10, 5:30 p.m. ET, Busch Stadium, TBS (Jaime Garcia vs. Kyle Hendricks)
• Game 3: Monday, Oct. 12, TBD, Wrigley Field, TBS (Michael Wacha vs. Jake Arrieta)
• Game 4 (If necessary): Tuesday, Oct. 13, 4:30 p.m. ET, Wrigley Field, TBS (Lance Lynn vs. Jason Hammel)
• Game 5 (If necessary): Thursday, Oct. 15, 4:30 p.m. ET, Busch Stadium, TBS (TBD vs. BD)

Learn More About #KarmicResponsibility

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1. Further Mis-Adventures of #KarmicResponsibility

This is Pittsburgh’s Bartman.  Maybe one of the most complete teams the Pirates have ever had and some douche-nozzle comes up with THIS, AND gets a Hotel chain to produce them to pass out.  Hey, it’s #Murica and we all have that luxury – but just because we can, doesn’t mean we should and #5 is the example hillbilly fandom that screams #KarmicResponsibility.  Beyond the Nuclear-Level of OCD this fan has – he must have forgotten you never plan cheers – you’re not Duke fan and it’s never clever.  I say HE because we all know, only a man would come up with this from his mother’s basement.

Anyway, now the Cubs move on to face a team in the Cardinals that seem to be held together by duct-tape – aren’t they every year? – so now we get two fanbases, that dislike each other, to such a degree, that they both act like everyone’s drunk uncle, on Thanksgiving, at your Mom’s house, with her new boyfriend that looks a lot like Jim Tomsula…Cubs fans are excited, again.  Like a dog chasing cars – it seems like the dopamine dump, cubs fan gets, shuts off their common sense and they quickly forget/bury the destiny that they are to blow it in the worst way.  All we need now, is some clown to get a world series tattoo and complete the affront to #KarmicResponsibility – or some other nonsense that creates the cyclical train-wreck of sorrow Cubs Fan is so used to.


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2. ALDS Preview: Rangers v BlueJays

3:30 PM EST ALDS Gm 1 Rangers @ Blue Jays Gallardo (13-11) at Price (18-5) FS1 / SNET

Those plucky Rangers are back in the playoffs, and it seems they only get there when they have Josh Hamilton, and Cole Hamels – eeery.  To start the season, the 2015 Rangers found themselves without young phenom Profar and staff Ace, Yu Darvish – and further seemed out of it by the trade-deadline.  Then they traded prospects for Cole Hamels, strengthened their bullpen, got healthy and went on a second-half tear to win the division from the Astros.

For the BlueJays, you have to remember 2012, when they finished with a 73-89 record and by trades and free agent signings they brought in Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey only to improve by one game.  In 2014, the BlueJays improved to 83-79, so when they were looking at a record of 45-46 at the All-Star break, the ‘Jays pushed all the chips in on Tulowitzki and David Price, to go along with 2015 free-agent signee and possible AL MVP josh Donaldson, to become an offensive juggernaut that can play D and pitch.

  • For all the talk that the Toronto Blue Jays are the obvious best team in the American League — they’re the overwhelming Vegas favorite, and ESPN’s Jayson Stark has already picked them to win the World Series — the one thing Toronto wasn’t this season was the best team in the American League. The Jays didn’t…(continue reading)

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3. ALDS Preview: Astros v Royals

7:30 PM EST ALDS Gm 1 Astros @ Royals McHugh (19-7) at Ventura (13-8) FS1

No-longer are they the Lastros – an organization that averaged 108 losses from 2011 to 2013 and are baseball’s youngest team – they beat the Yankees on Tuesday and now face their opposite in every way.  It’s Manufacturing versus Big Oil.  The steady-rolling production of the Royals, versus the Boom-or-Bust-strike-it-rich nature of the Astros.

  • Just three short years ago, the Royals went 72-90. It was their ninth consecutive losing season, and their eighth out of those nine that they had lost 90 or more games. Being a Royals fan meant unrelenting misery. It meant being unhappy on purpose. That same year, though…(continue reading)

4. Saturday Afternoon in Death Valley

If any fanbase can understand and appreciate what Gamecock fan is going thru – its Tiger fan.  What comes to mind for me is 2005 when LSU had to go to Arizona State after Hurricane Katrina for a home game in the desert.  Arizona State donated the gate receipts from the game to LSU and the Fiesta Bowl covered LSU’s travel expenses – in return, LSU will pay it forward to South Carolina, and what could have been a trap game looks a bit more fortuitous for LSU – so Saturday I’ll cheer for South Carolina before and directly after the game.

  • Because of the aftermath from flooding that began last weekend, officials felt it was unwise to play the game at the regularly scheduled site of Williams-Brice Stadium. Access to areas of the city, the safety of the infrastructure and the availability of drinking water were major concerns……(continue reading)

5. Banner Raised

Last night was the start of the NHL season if you were to busy to notice watching the Pirates and Cubs.  In Chicago they raised another banner and the Rangers started the Blackhawks off with a L.  If you do not have NHL-CenterIce package to watch all the ‘Ockey you want – I think you can find games on the NBCSN channel – I just have no idea where to find it…but anyway here is Yahoo Sports preview of all 30 teams from the Puck Daddy staff:

 

#Amazing Info You Should Read Right Now!

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1. Harvey Two-Face

So Matt Harvey dictates how many innings he’s going to pitch towards the end of the season…THEN said he didn’t want the ball to start the NLDS…THEN claims to have forgotten a mandatory practice because of ummm traffic.  Seems that Matt is more princess than Ace and his act is becoming tiresome in New York.  Just think if he pitches GAME 3 like he does against the Marlins – New York is no place to be when the pimps and C.H.U.D.S want a piece of you.  Be careful Harvey, you could be traded to the Rockies.


Jonathan Villar and George Springer (PHOTO: Al Bello/Getty Images)

2. Houston Has No Problem

The #MLBPostseason kicked off last night and the Houston Astros launched 2 bombs, both on 1st pitches, to beat the Yankees.  Eventually losing 3-0, it is the 3rd time the Yankees have been shut out at home in a winner-take-all post-season game.  We are watching the progression of MoneyBall with a team that likes to spend $$$.  Analytics has changed the way the manager and GM interact, situational awareness, player evaluation and is all over organization’s scouting reports – of course it doesn’t hurt when you’ve had the number 1 draft pick several years in a row – however, it makes watching the Astros compelling to watch – more so because up next is the Royals who play the game the complete opposite of the Long-Ball Astros.

  • 9 awesome things about the Astros The Astros will look to return to the World Series for the first time since 2005 and secure the first world championship in franchise history. They will open a five-game series against the Royals on Thursday in Kansas City.  Here are nine awesome things about the Houston Astros…(continue reading)

FILE - In this Sept. 9, 1969, file photo, a black cat stands in front of the Chicago Cub's dugout during the first inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets in New York. They were in New York, their lead over the Mets down to 1 1/2 games when a black cat crawled out of the Shea Stadium grandstand, looped once around Ron Santo in the on-deck circle, then stopped and stared at fiery manager Leo Durocher in the dugout for what seemed like an eternity. (AP Photo/Dave Pickoff, File)

3. From Cursed to First?

There’s another Wild Card game tonight and some say it is unfortunate that the Cubs and Pirates are playing so soon – those same people that say that, think these are the two best teams.  Maybe, but it doesn’t feel like somebody knows something we should know and we should go with that somebody – it feels like it has already been written.  The Cubs have a good team, but surely something will happen – it has to right?!  Let’s look deep into the crystal ball and remember…diddly-doo…diddly-doo…diddly-doo….

  • A sad-sack history: The Half-Dozen ‘Cubbiest’ Moments Ever – Cubs manager Joe Maddon says he doesn’t believe in ”any of that stuff.”  That’s easy for him to say, since Maddon wasn’t around for any of it.  But the goat curse, the black-cat curse, the curse of Bartman and all their mutations combined can’t explain the century-and-counting World Series drought, can it? (continue reading)

4. Houston Chronicles

The Houston Chronicle reports that the Texans will increase Arian Foster’s workload for his game against the Colts this Thursday.  They have to right?  Being 1-3 doesn’t leave you with many options – especially after a 27pt beat-down in Atlanta on Sunday.  A score that could have been a lot worse!  Houston has issues, issues that now include the QB position – as Brian Hoyer came in to assist with Texans getting any points at all.

So everyone is talking about Andrew Luck and the Colts escaped against the Jaguars and littering and littering and littering and…Sorry, Flashback.  So the Colts are -1.5pt favorite tomorrow night and everyone is all over the Colts.  Not so fast my friend!  There is a little stat that has been a family secret for decades that you’ll want to know about – the team that got beaten-down the worst the previous week, covers the next week 85% of the time!  Houston is at home, the family secret stat, Andrew Luck has a shoulder problem the Colts are now denying (Insider-Trading, tampering with the injury report, etc…) and the Thursday Night Home team rarely loses, unless the visitor is a superior team.  Nothing I have seen from the Colts says they are superior to the Texans – make mine Houston ALL-DAY baby!


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5. I’m Tiger Woods and Now I Have Cable

That ol’grey mare she aint what she used to be… and neither is Tiger.  If those were the women he was hanging around with in the beginning, no wonder he became a sex-addict – wooof!  But this photo was 19 years ago when Tiger won his first of 79 PGA events, beginning at the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational, defeating Davis Love III in a playoff.

A lot has changed since those salad-days and Coleman McDowell of Golf.com wants us to reminisce:

Major Winners

Masters: Nick Faldo (Augusta National)
U.S. Open: Steve Jones (Oakland Hills)
British Open: Tom Lehman (Royal Lytham & St. Annes)
PGA Championship: Mark Brooks (Valhalla Golf Club)

No. 1 Ranked Player

Greg Norman. The Shark was in the midst of a historic run atop the rankings. He took the No. 1 spot from Nick Price in June of 1995 and held on for almost two full years before ceding the top position to Tom Lehman in April of 1997 for all of one week. Norman would regain the top rank for two months before, guess who!, Tiger Woods took it from him for the first of his 11 runs as the world No. 1.

Tiger’s World Ranking

Entering the Las Vegas Invitational, Woods was ranked 221st in the World Rankings. After his win, he vaulted to 75th. Fast-forward to 2015, and Woods had tumbled down to 331st, his lowest year-end rank since 1995.

Purses

Woods didn’t crack $300,000 for his maiden victory. In comparison, Ben Martin won the 2015 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open (the same tournament as Tiger) and won $1.12 million. Jim Furyk won almost 50 percent of Woods’ earnings after withdrawing from the Tour Championship and claiming his 30th place winnings in the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Jordan Spieth’s Age

When Tiger had won his first event, Spieth had just turned three years old. Now, the 22-year-old has two major wins and is the heir apparent to Tiger.