Posts Tagged ‘MLB’

Pitching Pitching Pitching

Obviously you need to score runs to win a ballgame, at least one. Hits with runners in scoring position, home runs, manufactured runs, there are many ways to cross home plate and put a number on the scoreboard. You can keep runs off of the board with good defense but first and foremost you need great pitching.

The beginning of the 2014 MLB season has seen plenty of good pitching, especially in the National League. The Braves, Mets, Phillies, Cubs, and Cardinals all pitched shutouts this past Sunday. That is very impressive! Five different teams were unable to generate a single run during the course of nine innings, actually the Reds lost to the Braves in 10 innings.  The last time such a feat occurred was 2006 when there were seven shutouts thrown in one day.

I am particularly interested in this phenomenon because the Braves were involved and they have produced one of the best overall team pitching performances this season. Even more impressive is that their pitching staff was supposed to be one of the weakest aspects of their game coming out of Spring Training. Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen both underwent Tommy John surgery so their season was lost. Enter Aaron Harang and Ervin Santana to take their spots in the rotation. Not only have these two veterans been an unexpected surprise but they are about to make things very difficult when Mike Minor returns to the rotation this weekend from Minor League rehabilitation.

Who does management replace?

 

 

 

 

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Plays of the week

The first full week of baseball is in the books! No team is undefeated and no team is without a win. During this time of the young season any team has a shot to win their division or even make it all of the way. At least that is how a lot of fans feel during these blissful first few weeks. Whether your team is favored to win their division or finish dead last enjoy the level playing field while you can.
I am watching the MLB Network right now and they are showing all of the highlights from the week. Home runs, diving catches, amazing throws, and walk off hits. There is no way to see all of these games so what better way to catch up and also keep an eye on the competition. I have to be careful about how much of these recap/highlight shows I watch because I don’t want to frustrate my partner so early in the season. Since I rarely miss a televised Braves game, watching additional baseball coverage has to be in moderation or at least done in a more stealthy manner. I think I finally have it down to a science.

Lets get week two underway!

 

Another Season is upon us.

Ahhhhhh! Great to feel the warm sun and hear the neighborhood lawnmowers hard at work. Well, I actually haven’t heard any mowers today but I did a few days ago. It is a little cool and windy at the moment but the forecast for the week is sunny and high 70’s…perfect weather for the beginning of baseball season!

Yes, the 2014 Major League Baseball season starts in earnest tomorrow, March 31st. Technically the season started in Australia last weekend when the Dodgers and Diamondbacks had a two game series. Ok another technicality is that the Padres are hosting the Dodgers tonight for their season and home opener in San Diego. The free spending and greedy Dodgers have found another way to get more attention by attempting to win their first three games before the rest of the league has even seen their first pitch.  Yes, the games in Australia and the game tonight on the West Coast do count in the standings but 25 other teams begin their 162 game regular season journey tomorrow. The Yankees and Astros start the day after tomorrow and since the Diamondbacks have already played those 2 games Down Under…when you look at the overall schedule, tomorrow truly marks the beginning of baseball!

I am of the opinion that Opening Day for MLB should be a National Holiday if it falls on a weekday, especially a Monday. Games start at 1:00 pm and go until the last game starts on the West Coast at 10:00 pm. How great would it be to have the day off to just veg on the couch and watch as many of these games as possible or better yet, go to the ballpark and catch one live! I know the “all day in front of the TV” scenario does not appeal to everyone, especially the significant others of an avid baseball fan (you know who you are), but what if you have to work and your team plays an afternoon game? My Braves are playing the Brewers tomorrow in Milwaukee at 2:00pm so I am out of luck. I can record the game but it isn’t the same plus I will have already heard the outcome before I get home regardless of how hard I try not to. I have tried before, it rarely works out.

I, like many other fans, will need to be patient for the first night game to be televised in the coming week. Thankfully we only have to wait until Tuesday.

 

Living in an Upton World

The Upton brothers don’t need a family reunion or the holidays as a reason to get together anymore. They are now teammates playing for the Braves in Atlanta! Less than two months after signing free agent BJ Upton, the Braves made another rare splash in the off season market by trading with the Arizona Diamondbacks for BJ’s younger and potentially more talented brother Justin.

There will be a lot of who won and who lost in this trade between the Atlanta Braves and the Arizona Diamondbacks over the rest of the off season and into Spring Training and the Regular Season. I think they both won.

As a Braves fan I am sad to see Martin Prado as a part of this trade  package but I also understand that he was the necessary piece to bring the younger Upton to Atlanta. Prado has been a fan favorite and a clutch player for the Braves over the past few years and will be the same for Arizona. Prado’s versatility will be hard to replace but Justin Upton is a much more valuable, immediate game changing factor.

The Braves have always had the fortune of a wealthy farm system so Randall Delgado and the three prospects that were part of the deal seem a minor consequence right now.

We will see…

With the signing of the elder Upton earlier this off season, BJ and his kid brother Justin will join the Braves outfield star in residence Jason Heyward. Jason is the younger of the three at age 23 but he might very well be the clubhouse leader that will inspire these newcomers and the likes of Brian McCann and Dan Uggla to perform up to and beyond expectations, returning the Braves to the promised land of the World Series.

We will see…

Back in the Playoffs and Superstition

I am not generally a superstitious person except when it comes to baseball and even then I keep it fairly low key. Admittedly I have not posted much this year but it seemed like every time I did post the Braves immediately suffered a painful loss of went into a losing streak. I decided to wait until the post season was a certainty before I posted again.

After suffering a terrible collapse last September the Atlanta Braves have made that nightmare a distant memory tonight. They have at least clinched a Wild Card spot for the 2012 Major League Baseball Playoffs and still have a good chance of catching their rivals the National League East leading Washington Nationals….

That was the post I started about 4 weeks ago. I stopped in mid type when I realized I was typing the very thing I feared most. I was feeding into the superstition I had created and while I realized at that moment how crazy that notion was I stopped anyway…just in case.

The Braves did indeed win the top Wild Card spot but with the new 1 game playoff format they were forced to play the St.Louis Cardinals in a do or die situation. They died. I will not rehash all of the details but in summary, the Braves dug themselves into a big hole with uncharacteristically poor defensive play and then any chance they had of a rally was quashed by a an umpire’s poor judgment at a critical juncture in the game. Many water cooler, bar room, and neighborly discussions about that game have taken place since but I finally have reached a place where distance from the event and common sense have prevailed. I had nothing to do with either the Braves great 94 win season or their 1 game playoff collapse.

I have watched other teams and their fans suffer similar circumstances the Braves faced last year leading up to the playoffs, namely the Texas Rangers. I have also seen teams with great expectations like the Cincinnati Reds and the Washington Nationals not live up to expectations many were expecting of them in the post season. Most disappointing was perhaps the Baltimore Orioles who had a chance to take the AL East from the New York Yankees but came up short and then couldn’t capitalize on a weak, confused, and injured Yankee team to move on to the AL Championship series.

As the San Francisco Giants and St.Louis Cardinals fight for the National League Championship tied at 1 game each and the Detroit Tigers take the momentum of a 2 game lead over New York into the Motor City I am really enjoying these 2012 MLB playoffs. I am just enjoying the games.

Back in business

Sorry for the long absence but my household has been technologically challenged. Our desktop has been running on a hamster wheel for over a year and our laptop’s hard drive recently fried. Needless to say, blogging has been on the back burner for way too long but I am happy to report that I now have access to two very functional laptops and I am very excited to be updating My Boyfriend Likes Baseball.

Both leagues have been mostly upside down this season and while some things are starting right themselves there are still from very intriguing story lines taking place. You can always expect some unexpected leaders on the standings and stats board during the first month or so but is is surprising when the season starts drifting into June and team’s like the Washington Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles are leading their respective divisions (NL East and AL East). Who would have guessed that the Philadelphia Phillies and the Boston Red Sox would be in last place of those very same divisions?

As far as the unexpected in the Central divisions, the Pittsburgh Pirates of the National League and the Cleavland Indians of the American League are making some noise and keeping pressure on the the first place teams just ahead of them. Both of those divisions look like three team races because the hapless Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros inhabit the NL Central while the Kansas City Royals and the Minnesota Twins look like the consistent cellar dwellers of the AL Central.

No big surprises so far with the West. The Los Angeles Dodgers are at the top with the San Francisco Giants right behind them in the NL West. The Texas Rangers have mostly dominated the Al West but the Los Angeles Angels are starting to put some pressure on them.

It is still early June so nothing is set in stone. I expect some of these current standings will remain relatively similar but more than likely there will be some major shifts in power by the time the All-Star Break hits almost a month from now. Sorry to reference the mid point of the season on my first post in a while but not to worry there is still plenty baseball to be played and many mundane observations for me to make.

The Prince and the Paupers / The Giants and the Freak

Prince of a swing

WOWZER! The Prince has $214 million new reasons to enjoy his kingdom while the paupers and peasants are left to wonder  what it will take to bring royalty to their region.

Prince Fielder will be making roughly $23 million over the next 9 years in a Detroit Tigers uniform. While completely unexpected, the signing of Fielder by the Tigers should do wonders for an already good team. Now the bat of injured Victor Martinez will not be missed and if /when he returns to the lineup in 2013 the AL Central will have even more reason to worry about catching the Tigers tail.

I’m curious what happened behind the scenes with Fielder, his agent Scott Boras, and the other suitors that were interested in the services of a Prince? Texas seemed like the most likely choice, even Washington started to seem a more likely candidate.  I’m glad he is not going to the NL East and Texas is already stacked so I’m happy the owner of the Tigers was able to entice Fielder to the Motor City.

Almost simultaneously on the west coast, another deal formulated. The San Francisco Giants locked up their Freak…briefly.

Tim Lincecum reportedly turned down a 5 year offer for $100 million but did come to terms on at 2 year $40.5 million deal. I guess the thinking is that after the 2 years are done he can move on an make even more money? What if he gets hurt or isn’t performing as well as expected, then he will have walked away from a lot of money only to test a market that may or may not be there for him. Oh well, he’s still hot…in a freaky sort of way.

That was it! Those were the last big pieces of the puzzle that everyone was looking for. Granted there are still deals to be made but probably not significant to the general populace of baseball fandom as   what has already taken place. I expect a few interesting things will go down leading into Spring Training but until then…