Thursday, July 30, 2015

The WHAT IF 1984 World Series (Games 3-5)

The series travels back to "Motown", where the Detroit Tigers are currently motoring through this series, with a commanding 2-0 series lead & now have home-field advantage to throw salt into the Cubs' wounds.

(at Tiger Stadium, Detroit)

The Chicago Cubs will call on Dennis Eckersley to start Game 3 of the World Series; Eckersley went 14-12, 3.60 ERA, with 114 K's. The Cubs' General Manager Dallas Green looked like a genius landing both Dennis Eckersley and Rick Sutcliffe in trades during the season -- both pitchers were struggling in the American League, and were polar opposites in the National League. The Detroit Tigers will send Milt Wilcox (17-8, 4.00 ERA & 119 K's) to face off against "Eck".

The Cubs' bats jump out with a three-run splash in the first, Leon Durham's two-run triple scores in both Gary Matthews and Ryne Sandberg (both on with singles), Ron Cey would score in Durham on a sacrifice fly.

Milt Wilcox would settle down for 4 scoreless innings after his first inning fiasco; Meanwhile, Dennis Eckersley is on cruise control. The Cubs would add another run in the top of the 6th, with a sac fly RBI by Jody Davis, scoring in Henry Cotto, to give Cubs a 4-0 lead.

Eckersley would prove to be too much for the Tigers, as the Tigers could only manage 3 hits, while "Eck" finished with 6 K's. Milt Wilcox was credited with the loss, in 5 innings of work -- allowing 7 hits and three runs.

TIGERS still lead series, 2-1

(at Tiger Stadium, Detroit)

Sutcliffe takes mound in Game 2 for Cubbies.
The Chicago Cubs send Rick Sutcliffe for Game 4, he pitched an excellent Game 1, in which he allowed only 4 hits & a run in 8 innings, striking out 9 Tigers -- only to watch Lee Smith blow the game. Sutcliffe will once again, face off against the Tigers' ace Jack Morris. Morris needs to be more effective than he was in
Game 1.

The Tigers got things started early in the bottom of the 2nd, with a two-run homer by Lance Parrish, Dave Bergman hit a one-out single in the inning, but the Tigers couldn't get any more runners in that inning.

Top of the 5th - The Cubs had a few opportunities in the game to get something going, but failed up to this point. Bob Dernier draws a one-out walk, followed by an RBI triple by Ryne Sandberg. Sandberg entered Game 3, 2-for-9 (.222), but has been heating up after his 2-for-4 Game 3 performance (solo HR). Gary Matthews would score in Sandberg on a sacrifice fly. Leon Durham hits a two-out double, as Keith Moreland followed with an RBI single. Cubs take 3-2 lead.

Bottom of the 5th - Tigers had runners on 1st & 2nd with no outs, but could not do any damage.

Sutcliffe proves to be too much for the Tigers, allowing only 5 hits & 2 runs in 8 innings, although he was a bit sloppy, allowing 5 walks. Lee Smith does his job this time, locking down the save for the
3-2 victory, as the Cubs tie the series, 2-2.

(at Tiger Stadium, Detroit)
Trout's 1986 Donruss baseball card.

The Detroit Tigers alter their strategy, they decide to save Dan Petry for Game 6, their best starting pitcher with control -- they want to save him in case they are in position where they have to tie the series. The Tigers go with Juan Berenguer, who pitched 3 innings of relief in Game 1, allowing 1 earned run, with 2 K's & 2 BB's. The Chicago Cubs go with Steve Trout (son of former Tiger, Dizzy Trout).

The case of two triples. During the top of the 1st, with two outs, Berenguer walks Gary Matthews, opening up the door for Leon Durham, who has been having a terrific series. Durham makes him pay the price with RBI triple. During the top of the 2nd, Ron Cey draws a walk, and Jody Davis (0-for-14) hits an RBI triple, to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead.

The Tigers' bats have cooled off the last two games (3 hits in Game 3 & 5 hits in Game 4), and did not do much better, 4 of their 8 hits would come from their #7 hitter (Rupert Jones) and #9 hitter (Barbaro Garbey). Lou Whitaker would go 0-for-5, making him 3-for-18 this series! Garbey's RBI single in the bottom of the 7th, is all the damage the Tigers could muster in this one.

Steve Trout goes 7 strong innings, allowing 7 hits, 1 ER & walk, along with 8 strikeouts. Berenguer managed well, allowing 3 hits, 2 ER's & 2 walks in 7.1 innings -- but it wasn't enough. Lee Smith comes in for his 2nd save of the series.

The CUBS lead 3-2 in the best-of-seven -- heading back to Wrigley.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

It's Games Like These

Fireball King: Nolan Ryan of the 1979 California Angels

There is a Foo Fighters song called "Times Like These" -- a single of theirs off of their album "One by One" a post-9/11 track about moving on, and it's goes "It's times like these you learn to live again". It popped in my head after this game, in which I was thinking on the lines of APBA - It's games like these why I love to roll again.

Now this was not the greatest game I ever played. Maybe one of the more interesting & fun games that I have played in a little while.

With all the Chicagoland action that took place this last Saturday, I started thinking about my Amazing April tournament (my answer to March Madness) -- I started mine late, last week of April when I first felt I had no time to do one with playoff action in my computer league around the corner, and a busy off-season. One night, we lost internet power, so it changed my mind, in which I decided to do one after all. I took a momentarily break from the tournament to work on my 2007 Tigers Season replay, in which I am rolling so cold for the Tigers recently, I decided to switch back to this in some of my off-time. For future Aprils, I want to just blast through the tournament, this one, I took my time for the first round.

With the first round about 3/4 done now, I decided to roll tonight.

I played 3 games prior to work Sunday night, the 1982 Cardinals at 1906 Chicago Cubs, 1979 Expos at 1946 Red Sox & the 1979 Angels at 1927 New York Yankees. Although the first two games were close, they just did not match the night's finale. By the way, the Cubs edged Cards, 2-1 in a pitchers duel between Joaquin Andujar & Mordecai "Three-Finger" Brown, 6 total hits by both teams combined -- while The Expos & Red Sox combined for 17 hits, in a 5-3 Red Sox victory, where Red Sox held on despite leading 4-0 after 5 innings.

The 1927 Yankees hosting the 1979 Angels, may read off as a slaughter-ready-to-happen at first glance. Sure, the Angels have flame-thrower Nolan Ryan on the mound, but he's a B-XY (with no Z) which spells doom against an on-base machine such as the Bronx Bombers. The wonderful thing about APBA & baseball as we all know, even the worse team can have its day in the sun -- was that to be the day for the Angels? You would have to read on to find out.

By the way, the 1927 Yankees won my 2014 Amazing April Tournament over Cinderella - 1993 Philadelphia Phillies. The final four from last season get the top 4 seeds, which another Cinderella team, the 2007 Colorado Rockies have the #4 seed.

Waite Hoyt (A-YZ) didn't help himself in the top of the first, fielding a Rod Carew infield grounder, and then throwing the ball over Gehrig's head, with one out. Don Baylor made him pay the price by jacking a two-run homer (Baylor won A.L. MVP honors in 1979). The Angels had a 2-0 lead after one inning.

Bottom of the 2nd, Nolan Ryan would walk the first three batters (Meusel, Lazzeri & Collins). Jim Dugan would hit into a double-play (force at second, out at first) as Bobby Meusel would score. Waite Hoyt could not get the runner on third home, and grounds out for third out. Ryan dodged a monster inning by the Yankees. Yankees trail 2-1 after two innings.

Top of the 3rd, Carney Lansford hits a one-out double, in which Rod Carew followed with a double of his own, to drive in Lansford. Angels take 3-1 lead early.

Tony Lazzeri hits one into the stands to lead off the bottom of the 4th, to trim the lead down to 3-2.

Both starting pitchers start to take settle down, Waite Hoyt would not allow a base-runner in the 4th, 5th & 6th innings. Nolan Ryan was two different starting pitchers in this game, one was pretty solid pitcher not allowing hits in the 5th, 6th & 7th hitters, allowing his first hit in 4 innings in the 8th -- the other was a bit wild, allowing many walks.

Ryan would keep Babe Ruth quiet in this one, striking him out twice, walking him three times (two intentional) to avoid possible trouble.
Babe Ruth - 1961 Fleer Baseball card.

Top of the 9th, the Yankees now with Wilcy Moore on the mound (after the Yankees pinch-hit for Hoyt in the bottom of the 8th), gives up lead-off double to Don Baylor, strikes out Bobby Grich (0-for-4), but pays the price as Dan Ford hits a two-run homer in the top of the 9th, to take a commanding 6-2 lead.

Bottom of the 9th, Nolan is still on the mound, he has the best APBA grade on the team, that is available. Dave Frost (B-YZ) is the starting pitcher slated for the 2nd round, if the Angels advance -- while Mark Clear is a B-XW. The problem is Nolan's wildness returned at the wrong time, he would walk Earle Combs & Mark Koenig to lead off the inning, while Lou Gehrig steps up to the plate. Ryan has kept Gehrig in check up to this point, 0-for-4, but has reached base twice, both on infield errors; Ryan was hoping for Gehrig to hit into a double play -- instead Gehrig hits a two-run double to cut the lead in half. The Yankees now trail 6-4, with Gehrig on second & no outs, while Babe Ruth comes to the plate. Ryan's second intentional walk happened here to Ruth, he would rather face Bobby Meusel, even though he has a dangerous card, but definitely the less of two evils. With Ruth taking the empty first, once again Ryan is banking on a double play in attempt to get out of this trouble. Meusel hits a walk-off double as both Gehrig & Ruth scores! Yankees win! While the Angels are sick to their stomach -- nearly pulling off the biggest upset in the tournament, and the Amazing April Tournament history.

Nolan Ryan's final stat line does not sparkle -- 8 innings, 5 hits allowed, 6 runs (all earned), 6 K's with 10 walks allowed. Ryan is not the first big-name guy that I have allowed 10 walks with, I believe I have done the same with Tom Seaver once with the 1969 Mets.

Hoyt allowed 4 hits & 3 earned runs in 8 innings, with 5 K's & no walks.

It was the first Amazing April tournament entry for the 1979 California Angels, and they almost pulled off a dandy in their tournament debut. The 1927 New York Yankees move on to the second round, in their quest to repeat.

*** Games 3-5 results in my WHAT IF 1984 World Series -- Up next & Coming soon - Part III of my 2020 article on MLB Baseball. ***

Saturday, July 25, 2015

2020 (Part II)

It's inevitable, MLB once again, expanding.
We covered the possible expansion teams that will spring up in MLB by 2020 -- Rob Manfred has mentioned numerous cities... The front-runners seem to be Montreal, Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, New Jersey, and two cities in Mexico in Mexico City & Monterrey. Other names brought up by other bloggers have also mentioned Nashville, Cuba, Puerto Rico, while I have heard even New Orleans & San Jose. 

Now this is the fun part...

I have this Baseball Book "Leveling the Field" by G. Scott Thomas, in which he used all these formulas & replayed seasons in different division setups for standings for different periods. For example, he started with 1901, and also had World Series results for 1901, 1902, 1904 & 1994. He would use a computer to simulate each season 100 times, it would show the percentage of results, and the computer would pick some random number of the 100 times as the official result.

I know what you are thinking -- What does this have to do with all this expansion talk? Just give me a minute and I will eventually get to the fun part that I eluded to at the beginning.

So anyways, back to 1901, we all know that baseball was separated into two leagues with no divisions -- what Thomas decided to do in this book, is make divisions happen as early as 1901, which made the playoff results interesting with the 100 times (and random choice aspect) -- If it came down with real-life match-ups, he would still do 100 computer simulations of that match-up, but would go with the real-life result.

The American League in 1901 was split up with Boston Americans, Philadelphia A's, Baltimore (would become N.Y. Yankees in 1902) & Washington in the A.L. East; Chicago White Stockings, Detroit, Cleveland and Milwaukee (would become St. Louis Browns in 1902) in the A.L. West. The National League sported the Philadelphia Phillies, Brooklyn, Boston Braves, New York Giants in the N.L. East & Pittsburgh, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs & Cincinnati in the N.L. West.

Chicago White Stockings in real-life had best record 83-53 (.610) and with the new calculation of them playing 162 games, they went 99-63 with best record in A.L., The Red Sox/Americans won the A.L. East at 94-68. In the N.L., the division winners were the Phillies at 96-66 (East) and the Pirates (105-57).
Good book for people that love an alternate universe.

In his simulations, the White Sox took 56/100 (56%) from the Red Sox, the random pick picked White Sox defeating the Red Sox, 4 games to 1, in the ALCS. The Phillies only defeated the Pirates in 36% of the 100 simulations, but pulled off the upset in the random official pick, 4-2, in the NLCS. League Championship Series of course didn't appear until 1969, due to more expansion. For the World Series, The White Sox won 62% of the simulations, but once again the Phillies pulled off the upset, winning 4-3 in 7 games.

Now what does this have to do with the expansion, Shawn?!

First off I just wanted to tell you a little about that fun book, although some of its formulas are bit out there -- but the results part, was excellent. Second of all, when the leagues went into change, he added teams to different divisions. By 1969, the divisions and leagues were actually set up like they were in 1994 -- he decided to make a new jump NFL style, a year earlier in 1993 with the additions of Colorado & Florida.

It's from this idea that I would map out what the new divisions would look like in 2020 with MLB expanding to 32 teams. 

I came up with this one....

The one thing that bothered me, is that the Montreal Expos belong in the N.L. East, and the Colorado Rockies don't look like they belong with the Cubs, Brewers, Cardinals. The N.L. South turned out really nice, along with both West divisions.

So I then tweaked it to this / Version 2...

The realignment is never going to be perfect, so I forgive you Milwaukee Brewers fans if you cringe at the thought of moving again -- then again, you would have the Cardinals out of your hair. I moved Montreal to the N.L. East where they belong, moved Pittsburgh down from N.L. East back to N.L. Central. I moved Milwaukee to keep the theme of the Great Lakes, now that I moved Toronto back up to the A.L. East. Moved Cincinnati back to the N.L. Central, bumping Rockies out of slot, they would not be in N.L. South & the West is full, bumping the Rockies over to the A.L. West. Now we have a dilemma with Texas, putting them in the same division as the Houston Astros, plus the San Antonio (or Oklahoma City) would make it too Texan, while it would bump either Minnesota or Kansas City out -- So Texas goes to the N.L. to be in the N.L. South with the Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, and Charlotte expansion team. I think the Rockies being in the A.L. West will create a wonderful northwestern feel with Portland & Seattle, plus the Angels who have a history with both Athletics & Mariners. 

Now the next one is definitely interesting, it's not my idea -- This one is from Rant Sports...

Their choice of keeping the A.L. East like my choice in Version 2 works, the A.L. North is very interesting because it's the same fan bases that have to deal with each other come football season, the NFC North -- Bears (White Sox), Lions (Tigers), Vikings (Twins) & Packers (Brewers). I love what Rant Sports did with this, keeping the Geographical teams in tight clusters -- this would work out perfectly for travel. Now they had Oakland Athletics, but I edited Portland, because I am convinced this will happen by 2020 or shortly after. My A.L. West is the same as theirs, and they even mentioned that Colorado & Arizona could be swapped even, personally in recent years the D-Backs have got a rivalry going with the Dodgers, while the Rockies just have no rivalry -- they need to redefine themselves, so a change of scenery could be nice. Their choices for N.L. South was great, except I am not buying the fact that the Tampa Bay Rays are going to be around in 2020 -- the franchise is doomed, Joe Madden and Andrew Friedman -- the two men keeping the franchise afloat, have jumped ship, while the fans don't come out. 
The North divisions got me thinking "Lions, Tigers & Bears, oh my!"
In this scenario, they have the Montreal Expos as an expansion team, I don't see Montreal being an expansion team, the Expos want to make sure they have a grounded franchise in Montreal if they want the most potential for success. So Rant Sports having the Rays in the South, I say nix that, they will be the Expos -- and replace their spot in the south with either, a expansion team in Charlotte or Nashville. 

The Indians going to the N.L. Central may look funny, but when you consider the teams they are being paired with, it makes plenty of sense. Cleveland and Pittsburgh could start a really nice rivalry, being so close in proximity -- plus two blue-collared cities fighting through economic times. You keep the St. Louis & Cubs rivalry going, plus St. Louis in recent years has been a rival of the Pirates, now that the Pirates are no longer perennial losers. Cleveland and St. Louis used to trade a lot with each other, that may all change now as division rivals, plus whenever these two have played inter-league, it never seemed to be an odd match-up... maybe they were destined to be division rivals, hmmm? 

Overall, I like their choices though. 

*** To be continued for PART III ***

Friday, July 24, 2015

2020 (Part I)

Rob Manfred: The Man in Charge.
First off, I want to say, I am quickly becoming a huge fan of the new MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred -- despite the stupid clock to try to get batters & pitchers to move the game much faster, which really only saved an average of 6 minutes per game, so far (6 whole minutes). Watching him in interviews, especially his sit-down with the MLB Network -- you can see that he truly loves the game, that he is a hardcore fan, and will truly do what's best for Major League Baseball.

I loved that he quickly scoffed at the whole "let's kick the season off in Australia" routine & happy that he quickly nixed that -- which never made sense Mr. Bud Selig. Yeah... Let's kick the season off in a place that barely knows what baseball is, then those two teams (Arizona & Los Angeles Dodgers) can return home, and go back to Spring Training for a week?! It was ludicrous! No one watched, if you did it was 4 in the morning or something like that, and the Sports radio shows that are already pro-NFL had a field day blasting baseball to smithereens about it. Selig often made baseball embarrassing.

Now in the past, I used to cringe at the thought of expansion -- I still often, think that baseball should have stayed at 26 franchises. I occasionally (well, more than occasionally) miss the old division set-up of 4 divisions, and having only 4 teams move on to the playoffs -- Dynasties no longer exist (sorry Giants fans), in which the New York Yankees (1996-2001) teams under Joe Torre, was the last dynasty to have existed in baseball.

At the same time, like Manfred mentioned in some of these recent interviews about looking into expansion, he mentioned it's a growing business, and eventually that means more markets searching for teams. We live in a day & age where there are plenty of talented baseball players, more and more from over seas & more from the islands south of us.

Look who's back? Back Again... 
There has been much talk about Montreal getting a team again -- Yes, the return of the Montreal Expos. I do think it's possible, but like Manfred mentioned, they would have to have a new stadium ready for the them. Olympic Stadium is a old tomb with possibly as many cobwebs as an actual tomb, when you think about it. Hosting two exhibition games with good fan turnout is not enough, it is a great sign though. If new stadium comes into effect, which I think it could, if Montreal's mayor is that serious about bringing baseball back to Montreal -- We will likely see a team relocate there. A new expansion team could be rough to start in Montreal, but have no fear, that is why the doomed Tampa Bay Rays will be relocating there -- Yes, if not Montreal, the Rays will move, it's inevitable, Florida is no place for baseball, especially for two teams. With the Miami Marlins having a brand spanking-new stadium, the Rays are the odd man out in this scenario.

Also for those that don't know much about the telemarketing giants in Canada, Rogers Communications controls the Toronto Blue Jays, hence the Rogers Center name for the Skydome. One of the big rivals to Rogers Communications is BCE Bell Canada Enterprises, a company headquartered in Montreal -- I heard someone somewhere mentioned of the rival to Rogers, and thought it would be pretty cool to see a rivalry between the two franchises, controlled by rivals -- which could spark them to be even more competitive. If BCE Bell gets in on the action, we could see a beautiful ballpark with likely retractable dome roof (as well) in Montreal's skyline.

Glory Days: The 82' All-Star Game featured Expos - Carter, Dawson, Rogers, Raines & Oliver.
On the other side of the country, we have the Oakland Athletics and their sewer ruin of a home stadium called Oakland Coliseum. Now don't get me wrong, the fans are excellent, in fact I would go almost as far to say that the Athletics may be in the same realm as the Cardinals when it comes down to supportive team loyalty; Unfortunately, hardcore fans won't be enough. Oakland extended their leasing with the coliseum until 2020 or 2024? Something crazy like that -- even before Manfred took over, this extension is the last chance for Oakland, if they don't build a new stadium. I personally think the Athletics time in Oakland is done, I know Oakland fans will cringe to hear that, but let's face it, you are losing out to the San Francisco Giants, and them winning 3 championships in the last 5 years, simply didn't help your cause to keep the Athletics in Oakland. Oakland's General Manage Billy Beane has done everything possible to make Oakland competitive -- but your time has run out.

Enter Portland...

The new Portland team would keep the namesake of the Athletics -- Too much history for the Athletics franchise to have it's namesake to be simply brushed out. The Athletics will break their tie with the Braves franchise for most home cities, Portland will become the Athletics' fourth home. Back in 2003, when the Montreal Expos were looking to relocate, the city of Portland was approved $150 in funds for a new stadium by the Oregon State Legislature, but Washington, D.C. swooped in and the Expos became the Washington Nationals.  In 2007, the Florida Marlins at one point considered relocating to Portland, but then Miami approved of new stadium & became the Miami Marlins. On both occasions in 2003 & 2007, PGE Park, the minor league stadium in Portland would have hosted new team until new stadium was built. Apparently, the money approved can still be used -- add that to an investment group of sorts, maybe use PGE Park, and Portland would be in business. Also there is word that a site has been chosen by the mayor of Portland, which would put the new stadium next to Memorial Coliseum & the new Rose Garden, home of the NBA Portland Trailblazers. There has been many nay-sayers saying that Portland is too close to Seattle, but many counter-argue that if the two teams are in the same division, it can spark a wonderful rivalry like those in the old Pacific Coast League days.

Artwork of a Portland stadium idea.

An overview of Portland's possible stadium in the Rose Quarter area.
Some people may say -- Okay, what about their current lease with Oakland Coliseum? Well, there is the NFL's Oakland Raiders who are tenants, and that helps -- Plus whatever investment group/company wants to move Oakland to Portland could probably throw money in some sort of deal. Overall, I don't see why it's impossible for the Portland Athletics to exist.

By the way, the Portland Athletics already exist on Twitter, check out this Portland fan's Twitter Page.

There is an outside chance of Oakland relocating to San Jose, California -- but I believe the fear there, is that Oakland is suffering to battle with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Giants, and San Diego Padres' fan bases as is; Getting out of California, may be a safe bet.

Ooohhh... That Smell! Sewage overflow at Oakland Coliseum. 
Speaking of bets, Las Vegas has been a city spoke of for a future MLB franchise, money would be no issue for a team to be located there -- but huge concern looms for players possibly gambling there, which doesn't smell like a great scenario. Another problem would be that they would not have a concrete home crowd, Vegas is a tourist town, so basically their home fan would be a tourist, and their big crowds would be when teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers or New York Yankees were in town.

There has been talk of Charlotte getting a expansion team, but most of the people that have spoke off about it, fear it's too deep into southeast football country & may face the problems that the Florida baseball teams face -- fair-weather fan fever. So I say, how about Nashville? Also it would be great timing, with the rebirth of Country Music -- the city is jumping. I think Baseball would be exciting there -- Get some of the Country Music celebrities in there, to get that old down-home feeling that America is desperately seeking; Unfortunately, don't count on Blake Shelton & Miranda Lambert sitting next to each other -- but, hey! We may see Carrie Underwood who is married to NHL Nashville Predator Mike Fisher there. Plus Nashville has been a name that has popped up in this expansion talk, so it's not crazy to think it could happen -- The huge problem would definitely be the size of their market; Out of all the locations mentioned, Nashville has smallest population (1.7 million) & their TV market would be one of the lowest of the expansion potentials mentioned.

Baseball in the Music City? Could bring a nice down-home style to the game.
Other city names in the flux are New Jersey, Mexico City or Monterrey of Mexico, San Antonio and Oklahoma City -- I believe I even heard Puerto Rico & possibly Cuba, but those are on outside due to financial aspects I believe. Vancouver could be one down the road, but it's pretty close to Seattle. OKC would be interesting, but just like San Antonio, may be too close to Texas Rangers & Houston Astros market -- they (OKC & San Antonio) would certainly be small markets. New Jersey has a huge TV market & population to support them, but would they be effected by a massive indemnity aspect that could cost them plenty of dough -- plus don't the northeast have enough teams?!

*** Anyways, that finishes Part I of 2020 ***

Thursday, July 23, 2015

My MLB Second-Half Predictions

Eric Hosmer & the Royals are looking to prove the doubters all wrong, come October.
So back in April, I asked my APBA friends to post their predictions to share, along with my MLB predictions for the 2015 MLB Season.

How am I doing? Not so good. I knew I should have went with my gut on the Kansas City Royals, not only did I deny them to win the division, but I have Cleveland as the wildcard. I went with Detroit, strictly on the fact, until we are not the division champs, I will pick them as that -- Silly me, why in the world did I even think that was going to happen with the loss of both Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello & an injured Justin Verlander?! Now with Miguel out for 6 weeks, and the fact that we were just floating above water when he was healthy, you can kiss this season goodbye -- Personally, I hope we are not buyers this second-half, maybe trade David Price, and see what we can get in return, we need to get young again, and we need to rebuild that farm.

In fact out of my American League teams I picked (Boston, Detroit, Cleveland, Los Angeles & Seattle), the Los Angeles Angels seem to be the only team I picked that has the most solid chance to make the playoffs, as they just snagged first place from the surprise Houston Astros. Boston has a slight chance due to the American League East being so close -- but I just don't see that happening.

The Yankees have been maybe a bigger surprise to me than even the Astros, we knew Houston would eventually come around, but many people didn't expect Houston until 2016 -- The Yankees on the other hand, looked old & pricey. Then came a rebirth in Alex Rodriguez (.278, 18, 51 / .898 OPS) & Mark Teixiera (.240, 22, 62); Their rotation has been slightly better than expected, being efficient enough, while their bullpen has been stellar. Will they stay on top? I want to say no, but I'm realizing my predictions have got me nowhere so far this season. The Toronto Blue Jays have a offense led by Josh Donaldson (.293, 21, 60 & 4.9 WAR), with Jose Bautista & Edwin Encarnacion doing their usual as well. They need their starting pitching to step up, it appears that Marco Estrada and Aaron Sanchez are starting to come around behind the old vet Mark Buehrle (10-5, 3.34), who is the team's ace. Manny Machado & Adam Jones are leading the Baltimore Orioles in the lineup, while Ubaldo Jimenez (7-4, 2.81 ERA) has been a pleasant surprise for Baltimore; The bottom of that rotation needs to take load off Wei-Yin Chen & Jimenez, Miguel Gonzalez appears to be third best option with 4.24 ERA. The bullpen appears pretty good, but they need their starters to keep them in the game, and their offense needs more help as well. The whole division does not have one solid team, so I will now go with the Yankees to hold onto the division, barely over Toronto, who will make serious charge in second-half, but will likely settle for wildcard.

All smiles for A-Rod & Teixeira, leading the surprise Yankees in 2015.
One thing is for sure for A.L. East, no one will win 90, I pick Yankees at 88-74 to win division over 86-76 Toronto. Strangely, I had this argument with my buddy Jeff on that the Yankees would not make it past 4th place, as he told me they would be definitely better than my Tigers. I felt I had all the statistics to back it up, and it appeared the Yankees had no idea what they were doing in the off-season -- it appears that he will be right, my Tigers will not be as good as his Yankees even.

Which leads us to the A.L. Central, I decided to play it safe with a lot of other predictors and gave Cleveland Indians too much props. It's true in the second-half of last season, their pitching was the best in the American League, and with healthy regular position players, it seemed logical to pick them as a playoff team. Even though, I knew, I KNEW that Kansas City deserved more respect. Well, I'm now going to give Kansas City the ultimate respect, they will be representing the American League for the second straight season in the World Series -- They are hungry, I think only one team could spoil it for them, and that could be upstart Houston (this year's Kansas City Royals); I will also say that the Los Angeles Angels might be better than last season, and let's not forget they finally made the playoffs last season & they do have the best player in the game in Mike Trout.

Back-to-back All-Star Game MVP Mike Trout, officially stamps his name as the face of baseball.

Now I want to give the Minnesota Twins some serious props for their first-half effort, they were probably the #1 surprise in my book, in May they were red-hot, and now things seem to be settling down towards reality. They just don't appear to be a team to make a serious acquisition as well, as their 3 of their best 4 hitters all have below .800 OPS (on the exception of Brian Dozier). It's just too bad that Danny Santana has flip-flopped seasons at the wrong time (batting only .225 after batting .319 last season). Kyle Gibson is looking like everything the Twins thought he would be, but that rotation needs more help, and that lineup is mediocre, to even consider them a A.L. contender, in fact I can't see them making the playoffs, with the Angels coming around, and the idea that Boston & Cleveland could still turn things around. To make things clear though, they appear they may end up better than my Tigers, we have too many problems, I hope Dave Dombrowski isn't in the buying mood, we can't afford to give up any more pieces.

Eyes on the Prize: Max Scherzer & the Nats must show they are serious for second-half charge.
The National League is a little more decided with the Washington Nationals on top of the division as expected in N.L. East -- but they have not showed any total dominance that much was predicting before the season, and have a few games above the New York Mets. The Mets have made things interesting, but let's be honest, they will have to have a lot of magic go their way to end up being the 2nd Wild Card -- I think it's possible, I just think they are young, and still a year away. The Pittsburgh Pirates have come on strong, but can't seem to stay consistent, they get so close to the St.Louis Cardinals & then tail off again. I want to say that Pittsburgh will close the deal at end of season, because of all the Cardinals' injuries -- but I need to start going with my hunches more, and the St. Louis Cards have an excellent track record of proving everyone wrong, plugging their rosters with before-the-season mysteries & making them into season-surprises. Cardinals always find a way, they'll do it again, by winning the N.L. Central; Pittsburgh will be the top Wild Card.

I want to see the Mets or Chicago Cubs get the 5th slot, 2nd wild card, because I (and I think most of America) am sick of the San Francisco Giants. If Giants get in, they will be trouble, but let's face it, it's an odd year, so in my Soup Nazi voice "No, World Series for you!". The Los Angeles Dodgers should hold onto the N.L. West lead, they have been outstanding at home -- I thought with all the moves they made, they would be better though. They need to remain focused & ignore the Giants' footsteps behind them. I do like that the Dodgers have guys like Mike Bolsinger stepping up, before the season, Bolsinger was really not even on the MLB radar -- but this guy wants to stay, and has shown it. Not surprisingly though, Brett Anderson (Mr. Injury Bug) is back on the disabled list, I was rooting for the guy, he was having a good season -- The Dodgers need to land another starting pitcher to seal the deal in the N.L. West.

Let's see how everyone has done from the pre-season picks.

Shawn Baier (myself) - I think I am doing the absolute worst of the seven of us, no joke! The only team in the American League I even have making the playoffs at this point is my of the Angels making the playoffs -- but I picked them as the wild card to disappointing Seattle. My other wild card choice was the Indians, and they have been equally disappointing. My next best chance of an A.L. participant is my choice to win the A.L. League East in the Toronto Blue Jays, who have a chance at the wild card -- I have decided now that the Yankees will win the East, Royals are for real in the Central & I believe both the Angels & Astros will make the playoffs from the A.L. West with the Angels, having more experience winning the division -- plus Mike Trout is a beast!

I picked Nationals & Dodgers to win divisions, Cardinals as wild card, with Pirates winning division -- have decided most will stick now, except it will be St.Louis winning division, Pirates as wildcard with hopefully Mets or Cubs taking the last wild card over Giants.

Where I was wrong: Picking the Detroit Tigers to win the American League Central, who was picked by 4 of us to win the division (possibly the biggest MLB disappointment this season). Bought into the off-season offense additions for the Boston Red Sox -- pitching is always key, and Beantown simply does not have that -- plus, poor Rick Porcello!

Paying the Price? Tigers may have to ship the lefty & reshuffle deck.
Chris Baier - Chris is doing pretty good, just like everyone for the most part, we all have picked the Washington Nationals, St.Louis Cardinals & Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League. He had the Angels winning the A.L. West, with Toronto winning a wild card slot, which is possible.

Where Chris was wrong: He did pretty solid overall, where he went wrong is picking Cleveland to win the A.L. Central, can't blame him with 4 of our guys picking Cleveland to make the playoffs -- Sports Illustrated had them winning the World Series. His pick of the Baltimore Orioles winning the A.L. East is certainly not a bad one, the East was wide-open, and who knew the New York Yankees would be in command of the division at this point? No one.

John "Stray" Corrado - Stray has picked the Nationals, Cardinals & Dodgers just like most of us -- in fact, all 7 of us picked those three to at least make the playoffs. Stray may be the only one, by season's end to get all the N.L. picks correct, picking the Pirates & Giants to make the playoffs as well. The American League once again, has been the hardest on all of us, he has the Angels reaching the playoffs as the 1st Wild Card -- 4 people picked Angels to win division, while all 7 of us picked Angels to be in the playoffs.

Where Stray was wrong: We all did bad overall in our picking of the American League. Stray went with disappointing Boston, Detroit & Seattle to win their divisions & the Chicago White Sox as a wild card -- compared to looking like a genius with his N.L. picks.

Kenneth Heard - Kenneth has picked the Washington Nationals, St. Louis Cardinals & Los Angeles Dodgers as well as most with their N.L. picks. Just like most of us, the American League picks were off the mark, but he does have a chance to get the World Series match-up correct, with the Los Angeles Dodgers & Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim -- he picked Dodgers to win it all.

Where Kenneth H was wrong: He was sipping the Chicago Kool-aid with Doug, it was not necessarily a bad pick, with all the moves the White Sox made in the off-season -- I came close to picking the White Sox as a wild card over my choice of Cleveland, we just all didn't give Kansas City enough respect. The White Sox was picked to reach playoffs by 3 of our 7 guys on the panel -- They will likely be 'selling'.

Return of the King: Albert Pujols has looked like Pujols from his Cardinals days.
Ken Schulz - Schulz picked the Los Angeles Angels to reach the American League, and the Toronto Blue Jays to win the division (Toronto is currently .500 with a chance at A.L. Wild Card still -- competing with two surprise teams in Minnesota & Houston). Schulz has the National League picked pretty solidly next to Stray, with Nats, Cards & Dodgers, along with the Pirates & Mets as the N.L. Wild Cards -- the Mets happen to be just a couple games off the mark for that 2nd Wild Card spot -- He is the one of only two people to pick the New York Mets to make playoffs, I came close to picking them over the Padres for that spot, so Schulz's pick will look brilliant if the Mets get in.

Where Ken S was wrong: The American League, I had nearly identical picks with Ken, when it came to the Junior Circuit, our only difference is that he picked Toronto to win A.L. East compared to my pick of Boston. We both picked Detroit & Seattle to win their divisions, with the wildcards being Cleveland & the Angels. Fact is, 6 of the 7 of us, really felt the Seattle Mariners were built for the playoffs this season, so far... no cigar.

Doug Schuyler - Doug did great on N.L. picks so far, just like most of us -- Once again, the American League, a whole different story. He has the Chicago Cubs winning the N.L. Central which will be a stretch, but they do have a shot at the N.L. Wild Card if San Francisco flounders. Doug did pick Bryce Harper to win N.L. MVP, he must have smelled the 2015 breakout season to come -- He also picked Max Scherzer & Chris Sale for Cy Young Awards (both are possible).

Where Doug was wrong: Going with the Windy City with division titles for both the White Sox & Chicago Cubs. Can't blame the guy to go with the White Sox after the off-season deals, I know he was expecting more from Jeff Samardzija -- Plus the Cubs teaming up Theo Epstein & Joe Madden definitely caused some excitement, Cubs could pay dividends for Doug here. Just like most of us, Doug hurt most with A.L. picks, picking disappointing Seattle as well -- He also picked the Blue Jays to win the A.L. East, actually 3 guys from my guest panel picked the Jays to win the division. No one picked the New York Yankees to make playoffs.

Samardzija: One of plenty of White Sox finding themselves possibly in new uniforms, soon.
Dan Velderrain - Once again, Dan also picked (like many of us) the Nationals, Cardinals & Dodgers for division champions in the National League. He also picked Mike Trout to win A.L. MVP, which surprisingly only 2 of us picked him to win the pick (I was the other, but I briefly picked Miguel Cabrera & quickly changed it before releasing our picks). Jose Abreu actually got the most love by our panel (3 picks for Abreu to win A.L. MVP).

Where Dan was wrong: One of 4 panelists to pick the Detroit Tigers to win A.L. Central, can't blame him, I went with them due to the fact that they won 4 consecutive division titles. He also was one of 3 panelists to pick the Baltimore Orioles to reach playoffs (while the other two people picked the O's to win their the A.L. East). Dan's worst pick may not be that of a team, but picking Matt Kemp to win the N.L. MVP for the Padres this season. Dan could get redemption though, if his pick of the Washington Nationals over the Los Angeles Angels comes true -- but knowing how he loves his Angels, I think he would love to see it happen the other way around.

Where WE ALL WENT WRONG: Not giving the Kansas City Royals any respect, no one had them reaching the playoffs -- I should have stuck with my hunch, but went with the press. 

My 3 choices for biggest disappointments

My 3 choices for biggest surprises

My UPDATED pick for the World Series?
I want to pick the Kansas City Royals over the Los Angeles Dodgers, but I am going with the Kansas City Royals over the St. Louis Cardinals, in 6 games.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Let Me Count the Ways

Raburn has forced himself into starting lineup.
Let me count the ways of how many times my Detroit Tigers (in my 2007 Detroit Tigers Replay), can choke & lose...

When we left off, my Tigers just got done (finally) winning their first series after the All-Star Break, 3-2 over the White Sox (one of the games was a rescheduled rain-out). Not to sound like a broken record, for those that might not know, I was 53-33 at the break, and my Tigers were 5 games up on Cleveland (due to my +2 differential in my replay compared to real-life against Cleveland). By the time that we were done with the White Sox, we have been up-and-down & stood at 60-41.

Then the real horrors began

Games  #102 - #104 (at Los Angeles Angels)

My Tigers would make 6 errors as documented in my article "Tigers Rolling Over", three errors in a six-run inning, in which we would lose 10-2. The Angels swept us, 3-0, and outscored us 20-7, in which we had a total of 10 errors that series. When I explained this series to my wife, she knew enough to know that we played flat-out horrible. The big kick in the gut, was when Dustin Moseley (Grade D) pitched a three-hit, complete game against us, allowing only one run -- for the series finale.

Game #105 (at Oakland Athletics)

We did not show up this game, my team managed only 4 hits, while Oakland managed only 5 hits, but they made it count; Tigers got walked 5 times, but just couldn't get them in, as we lost 4-1. Chad Durbin is starting to pitch like Chad Durbin -- he won 9 games in the first half, while his ERA has been nothing special at 4.58.

Game #106 (at Oakland Athletics)

Recognizing that we need to bend reality a bit, if I want to win this division, and ask more from Kenny Rogers (Grade C) than to hand over the start to Andrew Miller (Grade D-YW). Rogers pitches excellent through 5 innings, allowing only 2 hits & one earned run -- But the Tigers' bats would let him down, collecting 10 hits, but only managing 3 runs. The Tigers had a 2-1 lead after Sean Casey's two-run HR in the 6th, and a 3-2 lead entering the bottom of the 7th, but Bobby Seay would not be at his best, and would allow two runs. Jack Cust's bottom of the 8th solo HR proves to be the winner, as Huston Street slams the door in the 9th. 5 straight losses for the Tigers.

Oakland wins despite having half the amount of hits (five).

Game #107 (at Oakland Athletics)

Justin Verlander was not at his best, allowing 6 hits, 4 ER & 5 walks in 6.1 innings, while striking out 6 Athletics. Eric Chavez's three-run HR in the bottom of the 7th off of Tim Byrdak proves to be the decisive blow. To add insult to our struggles, Adam Melhuse hit a two-run HR off of J.V. in the 4th inning -- Melhuse only had one HR all of 2007.

The Tigers have started (this game) with Ryan Raburn in the #2 slot, bumping Placido Polanco to the 6th spot (eventually the 5th spot) in the batting order. Polanco is struggling to hit .300, when he batted .341 in real-life. I am now forced to play Raburn more often than in real-life as well, in our quest to get some W's.

Game #108 (vs Chicago White Sox)

Thome watches another HR go yard.

The Tigers' homecoming (after 18 of 21 games on the road) is spoiled by Jim Thome -- who hit two two-run HR's (one in the 6th, the other in the 8th) as the White Sox win 4-3. The Tigers momentarily had a 3-2 lead after 6 innings, after Curtis Granderson's two-run HR.

Game #109 (vs Chicago White Sox)

It was all Javier Vazquez in this one, he had 7 K's after first 3 innings... 11 K's after 5 innings, and finished with 14 K's, as he allowed only 4 hits & 3 walks. The Tigers only allowed 5 hits, another two-run HR by Jim Thome.

Game #110 (vs Chicago White Sox)

The Tigers up 5-4, watched Todd Jones blow his 7th Save of the season, allowing a go-ahead three-run double to Paul Konerko in the ninth, as the Tigers lose 8-5. Bobby Jenks locks down the Save -- as the Tigers lose their season-worst 9th in a row!

The Standings after Game #110 (August 5th)

The Minnesota Twins have tied the division lead, and have owned the series between the Tigers & Twins, the Tigers have 6 games left with Minnesota & 8 games left with Cleveland.

Can the Tigers break this skid?!

Hopefully soon

Monday, July 6, 2015

The WHAT IF 1984 World Series (Game 2)

(at Wrigley Field, Chicago)

The Detroit Tigers broke Cubs fans' hearts in Game 1 with an unbelievable finish, can the Cubs recover and even up this series? The Tigers send Dan Petry (18-8, 3.24 ERA & 144 K's) to the mound to face off against Steve Trout of the Cubs (13-7, 3.41 ERA & 81 K's).

The Tigers draw first blood in the top of the 4th, with an RBI double by left fielder Rupert Jones. The Chicago Cubs would not get their first hit until the bottom of the 6th, with 2 outs -- a single by Bob Dernier; Dernier would steal second, and then score on a RBI double by Ryne Sandberg -- tying the game up 1-1.

Top of the 8th, Kirk Gibson after a lead-off single (then stealing second) would score off Chet Lemon's single to right. Aurelio Lopez pitches two solid innings of scoreless ball, in the 7th & 8th (helped Tigers avoid trouble in the 7th).

The Tigers call on the big man of the season, in Willie Hernandez (9 wins, 32 Saves, 1.92 ERA & 110 K's in 80 appearances). With one out, Leon Durham (quiet in this game, 0-3) would double, Ron Cey smacks in a RBI single, to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth -- blown save for Hernandez.

Top of the 10th, with 2 outs, no one on, Scott Sanderson walks Kirk Gibson. Chet Lemon would turn around and hit one into the right field corner, for an RBI triple, Gibson scores, Tigers take 3-2 lead. The Cubs' Gary Matthews, Larry Bowa and pinch-hitter Henry Cotto would go down 1-2-3 to Willie Hernandez this time, as the Tigers lock down Game 2.

TIGERS lead series 2-0

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Tigers Rolling Over

Exactly, what my team is doing right now -- Rolling over.
The Tigers won their first series after the All-Star Break, 3-2 over the Chicago White Sox & won 3 of their last 4 games -- their best 4 game stretch also since before the break; These days for my 2007 Detroit Tigers Replay that is a hot streak, LOL!

So... Maybe things are starting to look up? Nope. The Tigers in Game 1 would go on to look like the highlight reel of the Major League (The Movie) version of the Indians, where no one can make a play in the field -- Making three errors in the bottom of the 6th, to help the Los Angeles Angels go on to a six-run explosion that inning. The very next inning, two more errors (plus their first inning error) would make it, 6 errors for the night! It's been ages since I have seen so many errors, and I don't think I ever seen a messy inning as in the 5th there; Brandon Inge led the way with 2 errors.

In Game 2 of the series, we failed to score in the top of the 3rd, with bases loaded. We followed the next inning with bases loaded, and no outs -- scoring 3 runs, but we failed to capitalize off a potential big inning. Angels would answer in the bottom of the 4th, with a solo HR by Vladimir Guerrero & RBI single by Brandon Wood (who was a complete bust for the Angels). The Angels would take the lead, 4-3 in the bottom of the 5th. The Tigers' Ryan Raburn would score in the top of the 8th, on a error by Vlad in right (ball hit by Timo Perez), to tie it up. Only to watch the Angels score twice in the bottom of the 8th, on a sac fly by Jeff Mathis, and RBI double by Chone Figgins. Francisco Rodriguez closed it out for the save, despite walking two Tigers.

Dustin Moseley would mow the Tigers down for the complete game victory, 4-1; Allowing only 3 hits, and only one run (a solo HR by Magglio Ordonez, his 27th HR of the season).

The Angels outhit the Tigers 27-19 & outscored us 20-7, while the Tigers made 10 errors in the three-game sweep by Los Angeles of Anaheim.

The Tigers have basically been rolling over from everyone, and even the top of the order are not in sync; The group is hitting well for the season, but seem not to click on the same game, and if they do, it's their bullpen or fielding that would do them in.

The Tigers are fortunate to have Cleveland in idle, as they have lost a few straight themselves. So it appears art is imitating life at the moment, and that's not good for the Tigers who are trying to win the division. We are now 60-44, the same exact record in real-life 2007, but we have a 2.5 game lead on the Cleveland Indians (due to our +2 win differential in APBA vs 2007), instead of a 0.5 game lead in 2007 at this point of the season.

Now we hope to have better luck in Oakland.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Full Count

With all that's been going on, I know I planned on writing in-depth articles about my current baseball projects, but to get things done for my Boys of Summer APBA Baseball League, and other responsibilities to other leagues that I participate in. I will have to give brief updates on all, right here & right now. Eventually, I will finish my 2014 BoS World Series coverage -- since I need to update the league sit as well.

I literally feel like Dave Bergman at the plate in 1984 during a key at-bat in the season, against Roy Lee Jackson & the Toronto Blue Jays who were starting to gnaw away at the division lead for the Tigers. His epic 13 pitch at-bat, resulted in a walk-off three-run HR in the bottom of the 10th --- I'm currently still fouling off pitches with a full count, still looking to hit it out of the park, like he did.

Once I get the new 2015 BoS Season rolling, than I will feel like I can round the bases.

So first things, first....

The 2014 BoS World Series

We left off with the Fairgrove Tigers leading the series, 2-0 after the first two games. The Portland Microbrewers are in their second consecutive World Series; both teams trying to win their first championship.

In Game 3, with Portland now traveling to Fairgrove -- Portland's Anibal Sanchez did his best to try and keep the Brewers in the game; He went 7.1 innings, allowing only 2 hits, 1 ER, 1 BB with 10 strikeouts. The Tigers' pinch-hitter, rookie Khris Davis would hit a pinch-hit HR in the bottom of the 8th off of reliever Tony Watson. Joe Nathan would come in for his 2nd save of the series, winning the game 2-1.

With a commanding 3-0 series lead, the Microbrewers find their backs to the wall. Portland sends Cliff Lee to face the Tigers' Mat Latos in Game 4; Both starting pitchers got rocked -- Portland would pull away with 5 runs in the last three innings to win, 11-6. Juan Uribe was the hero for Portland, going 4-for-5, with 4 RBI & 2 runs, with a double -- Only two Brewers in the lineup didn't collect a hit, as Portland put 12 hits on the board.

Portland selected Bartolo Colon to start Game 5 against Madison Bumgarner, who has been unstoppable during these playoffs -- one of the best playoff performances for a pitcher in this league's young history, possible best ever to this point (Art imitating real life). But tonight, "Mad Bum" just didn't have it, got rocked allowing 7 ER, 6 hits & 4 walks in only 5.2 innings. Bartolo got touched up early, allowing 3 runs in the first 4 innings, and then settled down -- he would go the distance, as the Brew Crew's offense went off for a second consecutive game, with 5 runs in the top of the 6th & 7 runs in the top of the 8th. Portland wins again, 14-3, and have outscored Fairgrove 25-9, the last two games for a combined 27 hits in those two games.

Freeman continues to make Post-Season history in the BoS.
Talking about playoff history in the BoS, Freddie Freeman seems to live for this time of season as well, he had a historic post-season in the 2013 BoS Postseason, with 8 HR's! He ended up smacking two homers in this one (including a Grand Slam), going 3-for-5, with 6 RBI & 3 runs. I can definitely say he is our all-time leader in HR's for the post-season, in two years of existence.

Portland down 3-0, has now won two straight & forced a Game 6, playing in front of their home crowd again, the city of Portland was abuzz. But it wasn't mean't to be, Paul Goldschmidt would hit his 3rd HR of the series for Fairgrove, a two-run HR, that gave the Tigers, a 3-0 lead. Jarred Cosart was excellent, allowing only 2 hits, on no runs through 8 innings (although he allowed 4 walks). Joe Nathan would seal down the hatch, as the Tigers win their first BoS World Title on enemy territory. Hisashi Iwakuma got the loss for the Brewers, as Portland will try and get back here a third consecutive season, next year.

The 2014 BoS World Champions patch for the Fairgrove Tigers.

The 2007 DETROIT TIGERS Replay
Things have not been great of late for the 2007 Detroit Tigers in my replay, we were coming off a huge high in the first half of the season. The Tigers were 53-33, 5 games ahead of the Cleveland Indians in the standings for the A.L. Central -- We were only one game ahead of the real season pace, but we have played better against Cleveland than in real life, up to this point; We are also coming off a 19-7 month of June, after a so-so May.

We were 49-30 entering July, 3 games ahead of pace. We kicked off July by losing our finale to the Minnesota Twins, 2-1, we blew the first game of that series, so we should have not lost that series, 2-1. The Twins are now at that point, 6-3 against us. We would win our Cleveland series, 2-1 & Boston Red Sox series, 2-1 -- So plenty of reasons to be excited at the All-Star Break at 53-33. 

Magglio Ordonez (.400 ALERT) was batting .397, 23 HR & 71 RBI with a 1.182 OPS! While Gary Sheffield is on pace to make the 40/40 club at age 38. 

Then came the start of the second half for the Tigers. We had the first game get away from us on the road in Seattle, losing 4-3 -- We would win the next two, but lose the series closer; a series 2-2 split with the Seattle Mariners, who were 2.5 games behind the Los Angeles Angels in the A.L. West at the break. 
Bonderman has been lights out for the 2007 Tigers.

We would go on to lose a heart-breaker of a series against the Minnesota Twinkies once again, who now have a 8-4 record against us. Game 1 of that series, we lost in extras. We have now gone to extras against the Twins, 4 times in our 12 contests, with the Twins winning three of those. 

So we've been on the road for 7 games, and get to host the Kansas City Royals for a three-game showdown -- it's good to be home, right? Nope. I don't know if we were rusty from the road, we didn't show up in Game 1, we would win Game 2, and then Mark Grudzielanek once again destroyed us in Game 3; He has single-handily destroyed me this season.

Now we go on the road for 11 consecutive games, after being on the road, 7 of our previous 10 games, making that 18 road games in our first 21 post All-Star Break games. Our next opponents are the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels & Oakland Athletics

By the way, Ordonez has cooled off to .387, 25 HR & 78 RBI & 1.159 OPS through 96 games. Jeremy Bonderman has over-achieved, and is 12-2, with a 3.34 ERA & 78 K's in 118.2 innings -- He is coming off back-to-back shutouts against the Mariners & Twins. He is up against the White Sox in Game 2 of this up-coming series.

So that was just the latest on two of my projects, more to come...
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