Saturday, October 14, 2017

Bad for Baseball

The game ended the way that it was called all night... inside pitches.

Never have I ever witnessed a team get rewarded with inside pitches for strikes like the New York Yankees' pitchers were rewarded with. The last pitch was just icing on this dookie of a cake, not only was it inside, it was up-and-inside, give the guy (Austin Jackson) a chance to battle out the last at-bat... Yes, their backs were up against this wall at this point with little hope, but damn it, let the guy battle it out at least.

A few moments after the game ended, there was plenty of things that I came to realize... I realized we may all have been had. Take in last night's game, add that to the obvious-juiced ball that was present all season long, add that all to the wow factor (all rise) that Aaron Judge does for the sport. It all equals out to a pathway that MLB may have been wanting all along, the New York Yankees with the sports' most marketable player leading the way to ratings, ratings, ratings.

Think about it, it all makes sense.

I fear that Baseball may have surrendered to the same means that the NBA & NFL go about their business, some may argue that this is a good thing. Yes, the MLB needs to get creative in their marketing, which I believe they have done much better since MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has come on board. I fear that they may have sold their souls, to get their biggest market (New York) into the championship picture, sooner than later.

MLB's most marketable superstar - Aaron Judge.
Are we going to witness more bad strike-calling like last night, a game that by the way, which resulted in MLB record of a combined 31 strikeouts, in the same exact way that the NBA refs go about molding the script?

Yes, the Yankees struck out 16 of those 31 times, but they have a few guys who strike themselves out... while the Cleveland Indians are not known to strike out as much, nearly matched them, and there was plenty of low & insides that were down by the shoelaces that CC Sabathia was getting over & over! I'm sorry, I know he bounced back with his best season since 2012, but Sabathia recording 9 K's in only 4.1 innings?

Yeah.... I call horseshit

A true baseball fan is upset (like myself) that the best team in all of baseball, the Cleveland Indians got knocked out of the playoffs. The Indians were stacked from top to bottom, had one of the most beautiful endings to a regular season, witnessing their amazing 22-game winning streak along the way. A team that would do this, without some of their star players, while the world is finally getting to know some of their younger studs in Jose Ramirez & Francisco Lindor even more, although they both had horrible series.

Jose Ramirez & Francisco Lindor were quiet in their ALDS.
Overall, I am not trying to take anything away from the Yankees battling back from a 2-0 series deficit, or Brett Gardner's magnificent at-bat that led to the two insurance runs in the top of the ninth. I think Joe Girardi has done an excellent job managing this ball club, and that it's Girardi who is the number one reason that they got this far.

John Smoltz and many baseball analysts echoed the same thoughts last night, at the beginning of the season (or even beginning of series) did we even think that we would be witnessing the New York Yankees even being in this position, that they are now?

The answer was an overwhelming NO.

Entering 2017, I felt it was possible that they could be a wild card team, which they would end up accomplishing that. They had a rough stretch from June 13th - July 14th, going 7-19 in the process, where they did not look like a contending team whatsoever... and have come so far since then. They are definitely better than we thought back in April, and although they matched well in bullpens to Cleveland, they live-and-die with the long ball, they are very one-dimensional with a rag-tag rotation that makes you question... how did they get this far?

Their rotation is CC Sabathia (overweight vet), Masahiro Tanaka (hurt elbow), Luis Severino (overall best Yankee pitcher, who has not been consistent in playoffs) & Sonny Gray, who sported a 3.72 ERA since becoming a Yankee, a guy who usually pitches better than that. Then there is Jordan Montgomery who is inconsistent, but has shown promise... and then there is the joke that Michael Pineda is, who seemed to have his best days when there is mysterious substances on his neck and hands. The staff did have one thing going for it, they overall had pretty solid WHIP (Walks+Hits allowed per Innings pitched), this of course helps with having Joe Girardi at the helm with one of the best bullpens in all of baseball.

I can only imagine the horror that is taking place on the message boards right now, with over-obnoxious Yankees fans running their mouths as if they already won the title. Yes, they have a right to be excited, they knocked out the Cleveland Indians, the rightfully-so favored heavyweight, they were done for 0-2 after the Game 2 meltdown.... but let me tell you this though, they are not great fans though, they'll bury Girardi every chance they get when things go wrong, and they will do the same when they lose their upcoming series against the Houston Astros.

At the same time, I thought the best team would win this series, I am just hoping (and praying) that this is not another 1996 -- which was another Yankee team ahead of schedule, winning a World Series over a better deserved team.

By the way, back to the juiced ball... I fear that it is going to water-down Major League Baseball, much in the same way that the NFL's pass-happy game has done to that sport, or in the same way that the NBA has relied on the three-pointer...Ughhh... boring! I hate it, when a sport loses its strategic edge, I don't want to see pitchers' best ERAs up around 3.75... For crying out loud, quit punishing pitchers already!

I think the obsession over home runs is downright silly, it comes off in the same way as a redneck country bumpkin's love for monster trucks, explosives or a love of shooting things up. I'm fine and dandy, if the player is actually hitting them without help, but the juiced ball has been evident in players such as Logan Morrison (38 HR, previous career high 23 in 2011) who entered the season on the decline arch of his career, along with players Justin Smoak (38 HR, previous career high 20 in 2013) & Mike Moustakas (38 HR, previous career high 22 in 2015). There are cases all around baseball, such as the aging vet Jed Lowrie putting up 14 HR this season, after accumulating only 17 HR in his previous 1,070 at-bats -- to the rookies making quick splashes like the Phillies' Rhys Hoskins (18 HR in 170 at-bats), L.A.'s Cody Bellanger (24 HR in first 232 at-bats/through June) & Oakland's Matt Olson (24 HR in 189 at-bats).

Matt Olson & others are making it look too easy.
It used to be cases, such as the ones above, but they happened once-in-awhile, remember Kevin Maas or Shane Spencer? Once in a huge while.. not all in one year. I think many of my APBA Baseball friends will quickly admit, that they don't recall so many 'monster cards' in one set, and the 2017 APBA Season Card set will have aplenty.

By the way, let it be known that I do think Aaron Judge is a great kid, and if anything good came out of him getting the rookie record (even with the juiced ball) of 52 HR, he took down a record held by a cheater in Mark McGwire... although he was not a cheater yet (for all we know), McGwire set that record in what was also a well-documented juiced ball season.

I don't want to see pitching disappear, it's bad enough starting pitchers don't get to leave their marks in the postseason anymore with such short leashes, but if this juiced ball continues, who's going to watch a game that doesn't have pitching anymore?

There is plenty of things that needs to improve in this game of baseball, so I will stop at this moment, and wrap this post up...

until next time.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fantasy World

Changing gears, I have never had great luck in fantasy sports league, be it baseball or football.

This season is the second straight year that a handful of us at Applebee's are participating in a football league, ran by friend, Buddy. Last season I finished 7-9, had no receiving corps, or rushing game last season... Julio Jones started off slow, Minnesota's D was good early on for me, as was Phillip Rivers was, but by season's end it was a gigantic slide.

My Gotham City Rogues entered 2017 looking for redemption.

This year, everything has been going strong for me (hopefully I am not jinxing myself with this post). My biggest problem seems to be deciding which quarterback to start between Kirk Cousins (WAS), Jameis Winston (TB) & my Week 3 signing of Carson Wentz (PHI).

My receiving corps is pretty solid with my top two receivers A.J. Green (CIN) & DeAndre Hopkins (HOU), while Rishard Matthews (TEN) will be in the third starting WR slot for Week 5 for Terrell Pryor (WAS) who finally woke up this week, but is on a 'bye' week & overall has been a disappointment for me.

Entering Week 5, Gotham ranked third.
My running back & top overall pick, Le'Veon Bell (PIT) just rushed for 144 yards & two TD's to help my team to a whopping 114.78 - 48.62 Week 4 victory. I actually forgot to start the Bears' Jordan Howard in the lopsided victory, his teammate Tarik Cohen got the nod for me, so that was 8 more points I could have had. My 4th running back, Isaiah Crowell (CLE) has been declining in performance the last couple weeks, and may be finding himself on the chopping block eventually, but then again, that depends what the cut is for... having Crowell as my 4th worst rushing option is a luxury that some other team (even contending competition) would love to add.

The record book after Week 4, it would get updated again in Week 5.
I even thought about going for the Houston Texans' rookie QB Deshaun Watson, just for that purpose, but having 4 QB's seems to be a bit ludicrous.

Actually after I just finished typing the above sentence, I made a waiver bid, and acquired him, which led to me offering him & Rishard Matthews to the Big Ballers fantasy team in exchange for WR-Antonio Brown & Kevin Williams. At first, I never thought he would bite, but the deal was approved and went through & the league voted it through as well.

So now I have a three-headed hydra in A.J. Green, Antonio Brown & DeAndre Hopkins at wide receiver.... that's just nuts!

My WR hydra's totals entering Week 6...

  • A.J. Green (CIN) - 66.40 points, 32 rec, 504 yards & 3 TD.
  • DeAndre Hopkins (HOU) - 66.30 points, 35 rec, 363 yards, 5 TD
  • Antonio Brown (PIT) - 60.50 points, 40 rec, 545 yards, TD

We would go on and slaughter Downtown Brown's Team, 125.26 - 44.90, breaking the single-season margin mark that I just set the previous week at 80.36... So I outscored my last two opponents a combined 240.04 - 93.52 (146.52 margin) -- Did I mention the two teams that I whooped are a married couple?

I noticed the previous week, that the last couple weeks I was bleeding potential points in having the Ravens' defense & their kicker Justin Tucker, so I happened to get the Rams' kicker Greg Zuerlein, while falling short on getting Buffalo's defense. Baltimore is still my primary defense at the moment, I did pick of the Detroit Lions defense, they'll be backup this week, while they have a 'bye' next week.

It won't all be easy, although it has gone really well up to this point, I have to do some juggling with my lineups. Week 9, I will have my receiver Antonio Bryant, and all 3 of my mainstay running backs on 'bye's at the same time, while in Week 10, both of my tight ends have a 'bye' at the same time along with QB Carson Wentz.

By the way, after my Week 4 whooping on Sara's Team, this is what the fantasy football site wrote afterwards...

Really?!?! Really, Yahoo Sports? "Free Fallin' like Tom Petty" in regards to her team?
Too soon, we miss you very much Tom!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Shifting the Focus

There has been plenty going on of late, and we all know when times get busy, it means less time to do the things that we love.

I love playing APBA, but I have not been able to play much in the past few months.

My wife & I went to a wedding on June 28th, witnessing two of our friends tying the knot. Around that time, I purchased the fairly new APBA Hall of Fame Set, I played 18 games in the next 24 hours, then summer happened and since then have played about 30 games total in the last 82 days. This coming from a guy who was playing at least 24-30 games a week back in the year 2013.

During the summer, the wife & I have done a lot of prep work on our restaurant job, we work 5 days a week, often with Wednesday & Thursday off. We average 36-40 hours a week, give or take, in which our days can range from 8 am to 4 pm on a average-sized day to short days in which we get prep done by 1 or 2 pm -- to long days (usually Fridays) from 8 am to 6,7, or even 8 pm. Prepping, standing in one spot for 12 hours, during hot summer days, can be torturous, so when we get out we usually don't have the energy to do fun hobbies, usually we kick back and watch Netflix or Hulu.

I have watched more Baseball than usual, and I watch Quick Pitch every morning... so that's good.

The wife & I have watched our shows, since June we have watched the recent seasons of Orange is the New Black, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Stranger Things on Netflix, while I got her into Seinfeld, in which we have watched (most of the) first 7 seasons together in this time. She finally wanted to understand the Seinfeld-isms at the Baier Family dinner table that get quoted in the same likes of scripture.... everything from shrinkage, to sponge-worthy, to yada..yada...yada!

We also watched plenty of Elementary from time to time, while I feel like I am leaving a few other programs. 

We also did some beach time, barbecues, trips downstate (my Grandma's 90th Birthday) & a Detroit Tigers game.

With everyday life and every year going by quicker & quicker, I need to dial back on blogging on every single APBA game in my projects, and blog more about the projects in more minimal detail, and on Baseball in general... It does not mean I will not go into detail on my APBA games, but I found myself putting pressure on doing a blog piece, and then would not have the energy to blog or even play a game... It seemed like too much energy, and I found myself suddenly not having fun, and that's alarming for me, so now I plan to blog in different ways, in which I the blogger and my blog followers can all have fun.

Think of a camera zooming in and then zooming out, that's how I plan to go about the projects, from time to time, I will zoom in and give much detail and then I will zoom out, focus on something else from a glance, then eventually zoom in on that, or zoom back out onto something else.

I'm finally focusing on my down time, and to enjoy that down time, on my own terms.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Games 10-12 / Detroit at New York (April 20-22)

Parrish's bat has been huge for Detroit.
The Detroit Tigers in real-life 1981 did horrible against the New York Yankees, and they would suffer a 10-game losing streak from April 19th-29th. My goal at the helm, is to reverse this bad stretch and replace it with a good stretch, so it all starts with this series against the Yankees.

Game 1 of this replay series, featured Dan Petry (Grade B-Y) against Rudy May (Grade D-Z). May, the previous season (1980), went 15-5, with 133 strikeouts in 175.1 innings, while winning the ERA title with a 2.45 ERA; His ERA+ (160), FIP (2.94) and WHIP (1.044) were also American League bests. He would follow that with a disappointing 1981 Season, which is a reason for his D rating in APBA.

The Tigers would jump on May early, with 4 runs in the first, highlighted by Lance Parrish's three-run home run; Parrish would go on to a huge day, going 3-for-5, 2 HR, 2B, 4 RBI & 3 runs. Petry's game should not go overlooked as he pitched a complete game shutout (his 1st shut out of the season) to improve to 3-0.

May's crooked numbers read like this: 2.1 IP, 10 H, 7 ER, 1 K & 1 BB.

Game 2 was a close game through 6 innings with the Tigers leading 2-1, thanks to a Lance Parrish solo HR in the 2nd Inning off of Ron Guidry; Alan Trammell would break the game open with a 3-run home run off Guidry in the 7th Inning.

Dave Rozema got the win during a short outing (4.2 innings) -- enough to log the win, allowing only 4 hits & no runs with a K & 3 walks. Dave Tobik & Kevin Saucier made sure that the Yankees did minimal damage on their way to a Tigers victory.

Reggie Jackson hit a homer in a losing cause, as Guidry was credited with the loss (losing 5-2).

Game 3 was a bit back & forth early on, with the Tigers taking back the lead at 4-3 after 3 innings, but the Bronx Bombers proved to be too much as Lou Piniella (solo HR in 4th) & Bucky Dent (2-Run HR in 6th) was the difference.

Jack Morris was off his game, allowing 8 hits, 7 earned runs, 4 home runs & 4 walks -- through only 5.1 innings, with 4 strikeouts; Morris refused to talk to reporters after the game.

Reggie Jackson & Bob Watson were the other two Yankees with homers off Morris.

The Detroit Tigers improve to 8-4, while in real-life they fell to 7-5, after a 7-1 start.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Trading Faces

Trading Faces

It's that time of year, when the contenders separate themselves from pretenders, the 2017 BoS Trade Deadline didn't go down without a whimper, in fact it may have been the busiest trade deadline the league has ever witnessed in its almost 5 full seasons.

The Fairgrove Tigers made numerous trades in their quest to repeat & win their 3rd BoS World Title in 5 years; They are the only team with multiple titles (2). Owner Robert Mosher's first deal was a simple deal between him & his new son-in-law Steve Ruder -- a deal that involved swapping reliever for reliever, a deceased ballplayer for another deceased ballplayer & draft picks for draft pick -- Fairgrove acquired Jose Fernandez and Sam Dyson with Holland's 7th Round Draft pick in exchange for Yordana Ventura and Ken Giles & Fairgrove's 2nd Round Draft Pick; It should be noted that Ventura has now been traded twice since his death.

Fairgrove also added Kendrys Morales (1B/DH), Lucas Duda (1B), Brandon Guyer (OF) and Joe Panik in a trade with the San Diego Heroes (Owner Chris Baier) -- The Heroes acquired Patrick Corbin who has been pitching solid for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2017, along with youngster Austin Barnes (C) of the Dodgers, along with multiple draft picks & Carlos Gomez. The Heroes also added pitcher Trevor May for a late 2018 draft pick, in a deal with the Portland Microbrewers & added reliever Trevor Rosenthal for a late pick in a deal with the Vancouver Storm.

The Traverse City Panthers' blueprint for success didn't go as exactly as they predicted, as the players they acquired before the 2017 BoS Season didn't play well for the 2017 MLB Season. Jonathan Lucroy and Yasmany Tomas went the opposite direction from their excellent 2016 seasons, while the Panthers made the mistake of releasing newly-acquired Alex Wood during player cuts prior to the season, only to be swooped up in the 2017 BoS Annual Draft by the Micatin Destroyers.

Prior to the season, the Panthers acquired Jonathan Lucroy (C), Yasmany Tomas (OF), Brad Miller (SS/OF), Alex Wood (SP), while acquiring a 2nd Round Draft Pick [White Sox' Carson Fulmer] in exchange for Masahiro Tanaka (SP), Kelvin Herrera (RP) & a 3rd Round Draft Pick [Matt Bush-RP]. Wood was the reason the deal became a big package in the first place, then I made the poor decision on releasing Wood, in favor of keeping players such as Drew Smyly, Hunter Pence, and Tyler Clippard.

The aftermath was Wood gets swooped up & has a big season for the Dodgers, while Lucroy & Tomas has down seasons, while Miller returned to earth; Seattle didn't exactly win either in the deal, he acquired Tanaka who has not been at top form with a good reliever in Herrera, who I did hate trading, but in a league where relievers are a dime a dozen, that's not much of a loss. During those players cuts, I also made the bad decision of releasing Marwin Gonzalez.

So come August, it was another deal between the Panthers & the Seattle Rainiers (Owner Merle Watkins) that would reshape things for both franchises. I think overall we compliment each other well in our past deals, and his past deals with other teams have been well thought-out deals that benefited both teams there as well. There is many things that I like about Merle, I love his attitude, involvement in the league, and the fact that he's not afraid to make a deal, it's nice to see that his Rainiers may finally reap the benefits of good trades, as it appears they will be making a hard-earned trip to the postseason.

This deal involved Lucroy again, and for the Panthers it would be the second time that they have traded both Yasiel Puig and Cody Allen, in fact they were traded together in a deal with the Chicago Nine (June 3rd, 2015) in the big Miguel Cabrera trade. Lucroy recently won the 2017 BoS All-Star Game's Most Valuable Player Award.

This time, the Panthers traded Lucroy (C), Julio Teheran (SP), Puig (OF), Jean Segura (SS), Cody Allen (RP) & a 6th Round Draft Pick in exchange for Corey Seager (SS), Taijuan Walker (SP), David Robertson (RP), Yadier Molina (C), Mark Trumbo (DH/OF) & IF/OF-Jeimer Candelario. For Puig (2014's #1 Overall pick) it is the 4th time he has been traded, traded more than any player in BoS history.

Puig gives his thoughts on latest trade.
Sometimes when you make deals, you second-guess (sometimes a lot), but I really, really wanted Seager a lot, I think he is a once-in-a-generation star, and will love seeing him on the diamond with fellow Panthers Giancarlo Stanton & Andrew Benintendi.

My Panthers currently sit in a lousy division & find themselves in last place only 5 games out of 1st, the Spring Branch Duffers currently lead the division with a 67-64 record.

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