My Experts Predict the 2017 World Series

“An hour before Game 5, [Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony] Rizzo has broken out his pregame inspirational and comedic presentation, quoting motivational lines from movies with no clothes on. The Cubs won, so Rizzo did it before Game 6, too. They won again, so he did it prior to Game 7 as well.” ~ Tom Verducci in The Cubs Way

There may be eight-million stories in the Naked City, but that’s city’s not Chicago and Anthony Rizzo won’t be Lady Godiva’ing his way to another World Series. Not this year anyway.

 

Sorry, Anthony.

How can I be so sure?

Because my crackerjack team of experts told me so and they’re awesome, smart, incredibly good looking, and I believe them. (And, you want to believe them, too. That’s why you’re still reading.)

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Clay Bryant – The Alabaman From Virginia

When a ballplayer’s career in the majors is brief – just a game or two – he is said to have had just “a cup of coffee” in the big leagues.

So, if your time in the town where you were born was brief, does it become your “cup of coffee” hometown?

Clay Bryant had more than a “cup of coffee” with the Chicago Cubs.

clay-bryant-chicago-cubs

The right-handed fastball pitcher spent about six seasons with the Cubs – from 1935 through 1940 – including their pennant-winning and World Series-losing 1938 season.

It’s his birthplace that’s the cup of coffee in this story.

Bryant was born in 1911 in Madison Heights, Virginia.

madison-heights-virginia

He wasn’t there long. Maybe a year – or a couple of years at most – before the family moved to Birmingham, Alabama, where his father found work as a pipe fitter. And, that’s where they stayed.

But, being born in Virginia, cup of coffee or not, gets you on my Virginia-Born Project list, even if everyone in baseball forever knows you as “the big, curly-headed kid from Alabama.”

Bryant dropped out of high school when he was 16, and left Birmingham to work his way through the minors. He was called up and played a few games for the Cubs in 1935, and settled there in 1936, where he played until his arm finally gave out in 1940.

Cubs fans who know their history remember Bryant for just one season – 1938.

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“No Baseball Beyond This Point”

no-baseball-beyond-this-point

© The Baseball Bloggess

Baseball is over.

The World Series went seven exciting games, which is as much baseball as one can have. A World Series only promises you four games, so to have the Series go the full seven – and an extra inning last night to boot! – is like taking two brownies from the buffet table. Sure, you know you were only supposed to take one, but the second one was so delicious.

Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs who won their first World Series since 1908. It took a rain delay and an extra inning, but Cubs fans, no more sad-faces from you, you’re winners now.

And, chin up, Cleveland. You gave it your best.

(The Orioles haven’t been to a World Series in 33 years.)

your-stats-are-booming

And, thank you, Mother Nature for raining on Cleveland at midnight slowing down Game 7 even more. Baseball fans were exhausted, but a bunch of them were also reading my post from earlier this season that explained how long baseball rain delays last. (Short answer: Until it stops raining.)

So, now what? The brownies are gone and what are you going to do with yourself until baseball comes around again?

(Oh, I know, you freakish baseball nerds … the off-season calendar is loaded with stuff. Free agency and qualifying offers and the Rule 5 Draft and GM Meetings and the Winter Meetings and the awards, from Gold Gloves to Cy Youngs to MVPs. But, you know that’s not baseball. That’s just stuff.)

It’s only been a few hours. I miss baseball already.

(And, brownies. I could really use a brownie right now.)

(And, a good strong cup of coffee.)

Photo: 2016. © The Baseball Bloggess

Cubs vs Indians. Choosing The Right World Series Team For You.

world-series-2016

I’m going to have to watch someone play baseball this week. And, so are you. Let’s figure out which World Series team to root for.

The Chicago Cubs last won a World Series in 1908. The Cleveland Indians last won a World Series in 1948.

There’s a certain comfort in being able to shake your head at the end of a losing season and say, “Well, we always lose, that’s what we do.” Fans start to hang on to this excuse like a crutch. It becomes the excuse for every misplay, every error, every loss.

Just to be clear, Cubs and Indians fans, that ends today. No more are you “long-suffering.” You’re now winners. Enjoy the pressure that goes along with that.

A lot of thinking goes into choosing a World Series team to root for. Not by me, of course, but by other people.

You could spend hours poring over ERAs, WARs, FIPs, and Batting Averages.

You could.

You could study baseball stats and figures for the next seven hours and come out convinced that the Washington Nationals will beat the Red Sox in six.

Yup, and where does that put you? Back at square one.

Let’s look at more important things.

When choosing between the Cubs and Indians, here are some facts that may help you choose the best team for your needs.

First, let’s look at 1908, the last year the Cubs won the World Series, and 1948, the last year the Indians won.

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My Experts Predict The 2016 World Series

I’m on to you, Sports Illustrated. You’re picking the Houston Astros over the Chicago Cubs in the World Series just to be quirky. You’re going with hipster picks – just a little off the beaten path, but still kinda making sense. Good for you.

You went quirky last season, too, picking the Cleveland Indians when everyone else was certain it was the Washington Nationals’ year.

You didn’t pick the Royals. No one did.

You all make a living knowing baseball and you still get it wrong.

That’s why, once again, I turn to my own panel of experts – those who admit they have no real knowledge of baseball – to help me pick the 2016 World Series champion.

Sure, go with the ‘Stros if you must. Or, come with my experts.

You want quirky?

Let’s settle this.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

AL East ~ Clinton picks the Red Sox

Clinton is a handyman who does lots of fix-it jobs around the building where I have my massage studio in Madison, Virginia. Last year he replaced all the aging and water-stained ceiling tiles in my studio, which may seem like a small thing to you, except when you realize that the average massage client spends a fair amount of their time looking up at the ceiling.

I’m pretty sure the entire building would fall apart without him.

Clinton was, as always, busy working when I stopped him to help me choose an AL East winner. He’s not a baseball fan, he’s all football and roots for that team from Washington.

Why the Red Sox? Clinton may not know that the Red Sox play in Boston, but he does know that his mother is a Red Sox fan, so he picked them for her. (This is especially sweet, because, if you remember last year’s experts, Andrew chose the Red Sox because they were his mother’s favorite team. Based on this anecdotal evidence, I believe that the Red Sox are the favorite team of every mom in America.)

AL Central ~ Parker picks the Detroit Tigers

I met Parker at the local grocery store where he was feeding the goats.

What? Your local grocery store doesn’t have a barnyard of goats? Well, aren’t you all fancy pants with your city-slicker Smart Water in bottles and 20 kinds of Oreos …

Stevie Drinks Smart Water

“I used to be a dog until I drank SmartWater.”

Parker is in first grade and plays first base and pitches for his local Little League team. When I asked him the name of his team he said he couldn’t remember, but I think he was just afraid I would show up at his game on Saturday if he told me.

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My Experts Predict The World Series …

“They’re picking us last again which is beautiful.” ~ Baltimore Orioles Manager Buck Showalter in January.

Congratulations, Seattle Mariners. Congratulations, Washington Nationals. You’re going to the World Series!

Thank you for an exciting 2015 season! Man, it flew by.

The experts picked you and experts don’t lie. That’s why they’re experts. (Expert is derived from the Latin word for “try.” All that trying has made them smart. So smart that the World Series is already decided and we can just move on to Christmas. “Dear Santa, Please help the Orioles win the World Series in 2016.”)

Yes, I mean you – all you smarty-pants with your fancy stats and box scores and hours of analysis and number crunching.

What the FIP is a wOBA?

Yet, despite all that hard work, the experts are almost always wrong.

Admit it. Giants over Royals in last year’s Series? You had no idea. NO idea.

No stats gazing for me. I’m too lazy for that. (I also hate math.)

Instead, I looked for a few folks around town who don’t care a bit about baseball. For them WAR is good for absolutely nothing and ERA is a laundry detergent.

era

They’ve got better things to do this summer than watch a team play 162 crummy games of baseball.

(For the record, I don’t have anything better to do.)

They picked the 2015 division winners.

American League East ~ Boston Red Sox

andrew al east

Andrew is a server at The Lightwell, one of our favorite go-to spots in Orange, Virginia. (Black bean burger with avocado, dee-lish. Also, very nice cheesy grits. I didn’t even know I liked cheesy grits.)

Andrew doesn’t follow baseball and will spend his season working and his spare hours hiking through Virginia’s beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.

Why the Red Sox? “My mom is from Boston.”

American League Central ~ Detroit Tigers

scout al central

Scout, a first grader, was hanging out with her family at the barber shop on Main Street.

Scout will watch her brother play baseball, but that’s about it. She prefers picking flowers, playing with her puppy, and riding horses.

Why the Tigers? Because I asked her to circle one of the teams and she circled Tigers. Good enough for me.

American League West ~ Oakland Athletics

gloria al west

Gloria was born in Chicago. North side, so Cubs all the way. Her dad took her to Wrigley a few times when she was young. It was a long time ago, but she still remembers sitting in the right field bleachers.

She’ll watch the standings during the season just in case this becomes the year the Cubs win the World Series. She doesn’t want to miss that. (Aren’t Cubs fans cute?)

She also reads my blog.  “I liked it at first for the pictures of the cats, but I like it for the baseball history now.” See, what a nice person Gloria is?

Why the A’s? “They were on the middle of the page.” Gloria also noted that, logically, athletes should be better ballplayers than angels, astronauts, mariners, or rangers.

National League East ~ Atlanta Braves

sean nl east

Sean is a local lawyer. (I told him I would assure you that he is a very good lawyer. He set up my business LLC and, look, I’m still up and running … so there you go.)

Does he follow baseball? “Vaguely.”

Why the Braves? “My cousin played for the Braves. He came in as a pinch hitter, struck out, and lost a World Series game.”

tommy gregg

Sean’s cousin is Tommy Gregg, who played about 10 years in the majors, including six in Atlanta. In Game 2 of the 1991 Series versus the Twins, Gregg pinch-hit for Mark Lemke with two out in the bottom of the ninth, the tying run on first. He struck out looking. The Twins went on to win the Series, though you can’t blame Gregg’s one strikeout for that.

(You could, however, blame this … )

Gregg had a steady career, much better than that one strike out would have you believe, and he’s currently the hitting coach of the Omaha Storm Chasers, the Triple A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.

National League Central ~ St. Louis Cardinals

george nl central

I found George working out at the local Racquetball Club in Orange.

(There’s a lovely Yoga studio upstairs. Nice teacher, too.)

George isn’t much of a baseball fan. Football’s his game. He was a defensive end at Virginia Tech and went on to coach at Tech, William and Mary, and 23 seasons at the University of Maryland.

While he claims to not follow much baseball, he was awfully quick to remind me that Tech’s baseball team swept the University of Virginia last month.

Why the Cardinals? No reason.

National League West ~ Los Angeles Dodgers

tim nl west

Tim is a longtime UPS driver. He has delivered all sorts of crazy things to us over the years, including this jar of official baseball rubbing mud

rubbing mud

Yes, I paid money for a jar of mud. So?

… this Moe Drawbosky card …

Moe Drabowsky

World Series hero, 1966.

… and several jars of Manny Machado salsa

manny machado salsa

Actually, not bad.

Tim was a pitcher in high school. He might watch a game or two during the season, but won’t really get interested until playoff time, when he and the 90 other UPS drivers he works with, including those who know nothing about baseball, will “start talking crap” about games.

Why the Dodgers? During the Lasorda Era, Tim would occasionally catch late night West Coast Dodgers games on TV.

*     *     *     *

With the divisions set, I took the remaining teams to my Wild Card experts, my two English friends, Chris and Michelle.

They became citizens last summer and are still getting the hang of this America thing. They still stick unnecessary u’s in words, insist that English chocolate is superior, and won’t admit that the U.S. bailed Britain out of two world wars.

Just the non-expert experts I was looking for.

American League Wild Card ~ Texas Rangers

chris al wildcard

Note the Union Jack teacup. 

Chris’s work with rock bands has taken him through a number of baseball stadiums over the years, so he knows his way around balls and strikes. He’s been to an actual game, but found it pretty dull. “I went one time. I’ll never go back.”

Why the Rangers? “They’re always there or thereabouts every year. I figure they could definitely be in the wild card market.”

National League Wild Card ~ Arizona Diamondbacks

michelle nl wildcard

Michelle is a competitive equestrian, but is currently recuperating from an injury. She would like to point out she was a bit woozy while making her pick.

Here’s what Michelle can tell you about baseball:

1) It’s a cross between rounders and cricket.

2) Players chew tobacco and spit.

3) They wear short pants and long socks, and

4) “In Boston, the Green Meanie is the scoreboard.”

(Dear Boston Red Sox, If you rename the Green Monster the Green Meanie, I promise I will stop posting this video every season.)

Why the Diamondbacks? “They were the longest name on the list.”

*     *     *     *

With the post-season set, we mixed the teams up in special American League and National League caps.

??????????

POSTSEASON is set 2015

Editor/Husband picked the pennant winners.

red sox win the pennant 2015

“I can’t believe I just picked the Red Sox.” 

the braves win the nl pennant

“I can’t believe I just picked the Braves.”

There’s your 2015 World Series.

To pick a champion, I called upon the always adorable Stevie. Until a can of sardines learns to throw a baseball, she doesn’t care who wins. (But, she’s sweet on Mike Trout.)

braves red sox world series 2015

She circled around the two teams a few times (perhaps signaling a five-game series? Or, maybe just looking for that can of sardines) before settling down next to the Braves and, in the process, knocking the Red Sox over with her generous backside.

stevie pushes the red sox out 2015

braves win the world series 2015

(Somewhere down in spring training, at that very moment, David Ortiz felt an unexplained heavy sadness come over him.)

And, that is why the Atlanta Braves will win the World Series.

stevie says 2015

Still, it’s a little disappointing. Although I’m pleased that the Braves’ Nick Markakis, beloved former Oriole, will finally win a World Series ring, what fun is it now that the season is over before it has even begun?

Baseball is a beautiful, most perfect game. On Opening Day, every team is tied for first … at least for a few hours. Who can know who will win a World Series that is seven months and more than 162 games away?

I have no idea … no idea …

i go orioles

 

Yoga vs. Zumba … Baseball vs. Football

I’ve had a few Yoga students leave me for Zumba, the Salsa-Aerobic workout.

I admit it. It hurt my feelings.

What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with Yoga? Why go? Stay. Stay.

I think that Yoga vs. Zumba is similar to my feelings about Baseball vs. Football.

Yoga is … Serene … Mindful … Toned … Disciplined … Careful … Graceful … Strong. Yoga is bathed in a long, rich, and often-quirky history.

Zumba is a nice work-out to some sassy music, but that’s it as far as I can tell.

(But, then I’m biased. You’ll have to check out the Zumba Girl’s blog — Football, Zumba, Life … (and she)? —  to get the other side.)

Baseball … Football … same thing.

I see baseball as this graceful game of strategy, and mindfulness, and strength, and focus. A game that treasures its own long, rich, and often-quirky history.

Football has some strategy yes, but isn’t the point really to just smoosh the other guy a little harder than he just smooshed you? (And, history is often lost, except for the occasional throwback uniform like this cute little Steelers number last Sunday … click here.)

As a massage therapist, I can tell you that I’ve had to work my way through a good number of Zumba injuries in my clients over the years. Yoga, a few, yes, not many. Likewise, I’ve got a few clients who still suffer from aches and pains from long-ago (sometimes decades-old) football collisions. Again, baseball? Ok, a few.

In an earlier post, I explained why I boycotted baseball (and even my beloved Orioles) for several seasons … disillusioned by the widespread use of PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs). I’m back now, although I know that, sadly, the drugs are still there.

Now, I am boycotting football and have been for the past couple seasons. (Sorry, beloved 49ers.) The distressing violence of the game, the ignorance over the long-term damage of head-to-head collisions and concussions, finally made it unbearable to watch.

But, I know I’m the minority.

The World Series hit a televised record low this year.

Really? You all missed Sergio Romo … Barry Zito … Pablo Sandoval! It was good (unless you’re a Detroit fan, then, not so much). And, you missed the free Taco Bell tacos for America … awarded when the Giants’ Angel Pagan stole a base. (I also missed it, because there’s no Taco Bell nearby).

Today on National Public Radio, Frank Deford discussed the decline of Baseball, the rise of Football. (Sadly, no discussion of Yoga vs. Zumba.)

Here it is. He’s much more eloquent than me. Hope you listen!

NPR: The American Pastime Fades In Popularity

What’s wrong with Baseball? Why go? Stay. Stay. Just 111 days until pitchers & catchers report.

Swing Like You Mean It

Hitting a ball just once is not enough for Hunter Pence. How about hitting a single pitch three times?

San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence comes from a world I don’t understand.

No, not the National League.

When he was traded to the Giants this summer, I quickly realized that Hunter Pence is from another planet … where the energy is so plentiful and so intense that its inhabitants need no Starbucks or Monster drinks to thrive. In fact, a double espresso or a Red Bull would likely cause spontaneous combustion.

Hunter Pence is like a pinball in a machine gone crazy.

When Hunter Pence swings at a baseball he doesn’t really swing. He slashes, chops, sweeps, hacks, oh hell, just make up a word … ok, he scaswables at the baseball. Over and over and over.

He swings like he’s been covered in cobwebs. He swings and swings and swings. He drops to one knee as he swings. He spins himself around. He swings at the air as though the air has done something to irritate him. He is crazy mad at the air.

Just go over to YouTube and search “Hunter Pence warm up swing” and you’ll see things like this.

So was it any surprise that Hunter Pence hit a single pitch not once, not twice, but three times with a single swing of the bat last night?  No, not crazy by Hunter Pence standards.

But, what was crazy is that the bat broke as it hit-hit-hit the ball, and the ball still went fair. It was a hit. A hit that drove in three runs.

If the St. Louis Cardinals had a sinking feeling about last night’s Game 7 last chance, it had to come with that single improbable, impossible, insane swing of the bat.

It’s pretty cool to watch. Here it is in super slo-mo. Click here

But, you probably ought to see the entire thing unfold in real time. And, you can do that here.

But, was it fair?

Well, thanks to my Husband/Editor who — as a joke, I think — got me a baseball rule book, I can tell you that there is, in fact, a rule for just this sort of Hunter Pence insanity.

I turn your attention to Rule 6.05 (h) in the “comment” section.

(The comment section isn’t even really part of the official rules. It’s where the rulemakers explain what they meant in the official rules. See, Hunter Pence has his own world going on here that the rulemakers have to explain separately from the rules that apply to everyone else.)

Anyway, back to explanation: “If a bat breaks and part of it is in fair territory and is hit by a batted ball … play shall continue and no interference called.”

So, yeh, hit the ball as many times as you like, Hunter. In fact, the rulemakers also allow you to hit the ball with your bat and then with your batting helmet and still be fair. So you see, the rulemakers were trying to come up with every potential Hunter Pence at bat that they could in formulating this comment section.

With an at-bat like that, which resulted in 3 runs, well, you know the Giants were going to win.

And so, 9-0 later, they did.  And, the Giants go to the World Series.

By the way, I bleed Orange & Black … and that is for the Baltimore Orioles … the team that taught me what baseball is all about. The Orioles are MY team.

But, there’s a little orange and black that I save on the side for the Giants. My dad was really more into basketball and football.  But, he enjoyed some good times in L.A. and so, if baseball was his only option, then a Dodgers fan he was. It seemed only fair, to us anyway, that I cheer for the Dodgers’ rival.  A little Giants fan was born.

And, so I guess I have some World Series games to watch.