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

What You Need To Know To #OwnOctober

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1. We’re Going to Kansas City…

The Blue Jays before Game 5 were 3-0 in elimination games – make that 4-0.  Now they have 2 more to go and you gotta wonder if they should bring some talisman from home with them.  Game 5 may have delayed the inevitable, but we’ve seen this before with this team.

With their backs against the wall, the Blue Jays came up big — again. This time it was Marco Estrada doing the pitching and a bevy of batters doing the hitting in Toronto’s 7-1 ALCS Game 5. The Jays live to see another day — Friday, Game 6 in Kansas City.

Source: Toronto won another elimination game Wednesday.


2. Too Cubs For Comfort

It was Back to the Future Night and the Cubs couldn’t overcome Mrs O’Leary’s cow, the billy goat or Murphy’s Law.  Cubs Nation has been a long-battered, long-picked on group of lovable-losers that it still surprises how quickly they reached future expectations.  The 3rd best record in the National League, they were 7-0 against the Mets and they never led once in this sweep.

Sure Daniel Murphy hit another HR in his 6th consecutive game and sure no one has done that before in the postseason, but he shares another impressive stat with Lou Gehrig – 7 straight games being on base, having a hit and scoring a run.  He’s your NLCS MVP.  Murphy is playing himself into a nice contract when this is all done.  But the real question to ask is: What is Kyle Schwarber doing in Left Field?

Source: What The Hell Was Kyle Schwarber Doing In Left Field?


3. Blue Bye-You

The Los Angeles Dodgers and manager Don Mattingly have mutually agreed to part ways, according to ESPN sources familiar with the situation and published reports.  Mattingly had one year remaining on his contract, and sources indicated to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that the Dodgers offered him an extension this past weekend. But after years of uncertainty about the Dodgers’ long-term commitment to him — Mattingly has worked under two different ownership groups and two different general managers — he informed the team earlier this week that he preferred to move on.

Source: Don Mattingly out as manager of Dodgers, sources say

#BackToTheFuture and 5 Other Dimes

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1. Murphy’s Law

It appears Back to the Future II was wrong about the Cubs.  It was fun while it lasted, and how ’bout that Daniel Murphy.  I’m not sure, but he might be the first player ever to hit a HR in the postseason off of three Cy Young winners…Channeling his inner Carlos Beltran, Murphy has now tied a record by hitting a HR in 5 straight games off of guys like these: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta.

In honor of #BackToTheFuture, I’ll give you this:  The last time a club had Theo Epstein as their GM, that also went 80yrs without a World Series, and was also down 0-3 to a team from New York in the LCS – that team then won the next 8 games to erase a curse…….not saying, just saying.

  • Mets playoffs: Breaking down Jason Hammel, Cubs’ Game 4 starter – spite trailing 3-0 in the National League Championship Series, the Chicago Cubs are sticking to their plan and starting Jason Hammel against the Metstonight in Game 4. Their alternatives would have been Jon Lester, pitching on three days of rest, or perhaps Jake Arrieta, pitching on two days of rest. The 33-year-old righty might not be in the game for long—by design—as the Cubs……(continue reading)

  • ROYALS ROUT BLUE JAYS 14-2, 1 WIN FROM WORLD SERIES RETURN –  Whether it’s a long ball by Ben Zobrist, a slashing single from Lorenzo Cain or another exhilarating trip around the bases for Alcides Escobar, these Kansas City Royals are relentless — and one win from a return trip to the World Series.  Zobrist hit a two-run homer on knuckleballer R.A. Dickey’s fourth pitch of the game, Alex Rios connected an inning later against his former team and the Royals romped past the Toronto Blue Jays 14-2 Tuesday for a 3-1 lead in the American League Championship Series……(continue reading)


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2. All We Are, Is Dust In The Wind Dude

Has there been any bigger flash-in-the-pan than Puig?  I still think he has a lot of talent and might need a new venue and new year.  So what better way to look at next year then some trade rumors.  Matt Fitzgerald breaks down the buzz of who might go where

  • MLB Rumors: Analyzing Trade Buzz on Yasiel Puig, Stephen Strasburg and More – The MLB offseason has officially begun for every team save the final four in the playoffs, so trade speculation will continue swirling from now through the Fall Classic and well into the winter.  If the caliber of players making headlines in the latest trade buzz is any indication of what’s to come, it could ignite a captivating series of transactions as front offices work to retool their rosters.  Three big names who have experienced……(continue reading)

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3. What #NFL Team Are You Stuck Watching

For those of you that still do not have the RedZone channel, and suffer from being skinny arms Peyton Manning – you’re stuck watching whatever game the networks tell you to watch.  Thankfully, the fellas at FiveThirtyEight.com broke down the #NFL’s broadcast deal.  You might be surprised who the NFL pushes us to watch as an alternate to your local 11.

  • Which NFL Team Are You Stuck Watching Every Sunday? – Like millions of other Americans, I watch the NFL on a regular basis. However, just like millions of other viewers, most Sundays I am not sure which games will be on my television. I live in Austin, so there’s a good chance I’ll get to see the Cowboys and Texans, but beyond that, there’s no way for me to know what to expect. Because of the nature of the league’s broadcast deal, and the realities of “regional coverage,” every Sunday the league’s national broadcast partners Fox and CBS assign different games to different markets, based on……(continue reading)

4. There Is Always Room at the Top

It’s time to count all your chickens before they’ve hatched and that is exactly what Rivers McCown has done for the Washington Post.  He has broken down the top 10 teams and their chances at the elusive College Football Playoff.  We have yet to have Halloween, but can still enjoy a snickers here and there, can’t we?

  • College Football Playoff Projection: Here are the 10 top teams in the nation right now – With most of this week’s games looking like they’ll play true to form — which seems to be a rarity this college football season — it’s worth looking ahead to what the top of the Playoff Selection Committee’s rankings might look like when they’re unveiled next week. At least, here’s what they should look like, right now, and what potential obstacles remain for each team before the season’s end……(continue reading)

5. Dime Bag

The NBA season is almost upon us and the SB Nation has broken down a team-by-team preview for the 2015 season for you.  SPOILER ALERT: No one picks the Nuggets to win it all.

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Gonna Fly Now: Inspired Cubs Welcome Mets Tonight Game 3 (8 ET, TBS)

Gonna Fly Now: Inspired Cubs welcome Mets (8 ET, TBS)

Over his managerial career, Joe Maddon has played host to zoo animals, a DJ and a magician, encouraged his players to dress in costume and invoked pop culture in interviews. For his next trick, the Cubs skipper is channeling his inner fighter. After the Cubs dropped Game 2 of the National League Championship Series to the Mets on Sunday in New York, the well-known theme music from the film Rocky could be heard coming from Maddon’s office.

Source: Joe Maddon plays theme music from Rocky | cubs.com

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Crackpot Inventor Changes Future and You Don’t Even Know It

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1. Has This Man Already Changed Our Future?

Oh Dodgers, you had one job.  Since you moved to the West-Side in 1958, you never lost at home with a chance to win a series – never – until last night.  You and your $289 million dollar payroll just goes to show you can’t buy championships in baseball anymore.  Now the Cubs have to face a tougher road to get to the World Series, instead of playing a bunch milque-toast chokers like you.  It was the perfect opportunity for Chicago to rid themselves from a curse of futility and shame.  Now it’s harder for Back to the Future to be right, they gotta work for everything to earn the right just MAKE the World Series.

So pack it up Mattingly, your gone, see ya Puig, Magic please turn out the lights.  This team has to start over, because next year the Giants are winning it all, as is their custom, and you can’t beat anyone when it counts the last 25 years.

Now we get endless shots of the biggest Mets and Cubs fans on every broadcast, living and dying with every foul-ball and pitch.  It’s better this way, than with you LA.  It’s a harvest of talent, Bill Murray, John Cusak, Eddie Vedder vs. Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, John Stewart – and if the Cubs do win, then we should just make Theo Epstein President, because what he’s done before 42 is more impressive than those other jokers – just think of the possibilities…

  • Daniel Murphy Doesn’t Want To Stop Being A Met Just Yet – Daniel Murphy’s Mets days are probably numbered, but he made sure last night that there will be at least a few more. Murphy pretty much was New York’s offense in their Game 5 win over the Dodgers, and backed by another excellent pitching performance from Jacob DeGrom, the Mets are through to the NLCS……(continue reading)

Would You Eat the Moon if it was made of Ribs?

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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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:

fanduel

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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)