Friday, July 29, 2016

And Now, An Absolutely Beautiful Hisashi Iwakuma Custom

Just wanted to brighten your day a little bit. Regardless of the Mariners' struggles, or whatever's going on in the least we can all agree on how cool this Iwakuma custom is.

That's all. Go back to what you were doing. I'll give you a post with some substance later tonight.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Reason #26 Why You Never Should Have Counted Out the Dodgers

The Giants made a huge splash last month, nearly dethroning the Cubs for 'best in baseball' honors. And yet, in the last few weeks, their star has faded thanks to losing some lay-up series, and the loss of some steam.

Enter Los Angeles.

Since given the opportunity, the Dodgers have moved to 2.5 games behind the Giants, and are gaining fast. Even without Clayton Kershaw, the rotation is strong, with Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, Kenta Maeda and Bud Norris all holding up a pretty strong ship amid all the injuries and catastrophes in the rotation. Kazmir is no Kershaw, but he's still an impressive anchor and is doing what he can to keep the momentum going.

No, the real strength is the lineup. Justin Turner, Corey Seager, Adrian Gonzalez, Yasmani Grandal and Chase Utley are all hitting, and the momentum is growing by the day. This is not the prime team- a lot of backups have been taking place, but we're eventually getting to a lineup that can win games.

Look, as much as this can be the Giants' year, the Dodgers can be even more of sleeper hit. Next month, Andre Ethier will return, and it's looking like they want Clayton Kershaw to return as well. The barricade's only going to strengthen as it goes along, and the NL West battle is just going to get tougher.

Coming Tomorrow- One of the few Mariners pitchers that hasn't gotten injured.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Pirates Game 7/27/16- Heart and Cole

I've been in Pittsburgh for the last few days, as I've been working with a traveling film camp around the East Coast. It's a really cool job, and I love it, but it brought me to Pittsburgh this week, and I figured, as I'm in town, I might as well pay a visit to one of my favorite places to watch a ballgame, PNC Park.

So...I did...and I was not disappointed.

First of all, one of the reasons why I love the park is the city is right in view, and the bridges and walk around the stadium is so fun. Plus, the fans are all into it, and tonight the entire place was packed- this was a complete 360 to how it was 5 years ago, when I sat behind home plate for a very cheap amount of money, mainly because it was still a foreseeable option.

Tonight...we sat along the third base line in some pretty nice seats, and got to see the Pirates take on the Seattle Mariners, featuring James Paxton on the mound.

Luckily...the Pirates pitched Gerrit Cole tonight, and the man was on the entire night. He pitched nine solid innings, only allowing four hits and one run, and completely shutting down an offense that can be deadly if underestimated. Cole is already an outstanding pitcher, but the fact that he could notch a CGV like that is pretty extraordinary, especially seeing as the Pirates aren't a perfect team all around.'s not like Cole did this alone. The entire lineup took great pleasure in bashing the ever-loving shit out of the Mariners pitching...especially James Paxton. All it took was some RBI stuff from Josh Harrison, Starling Marte, David Freese and Jung-Ho Kang to power the 3-run 3rd inning...and for a while, it looked like that would be all. But the seventh inning was even more explosive, and the hits kept coming, raining on new Mariner Drew Storen's parade.

The best moment for me was seeing Andrew McCutchen, one of my favorite players, absolutely MURDER a ball thrown by some Mariners reliever, sending it out late in the game, and basically sealing the game's fate. Cutch hasn't been having the greatest season, but he had a pretty impressive night, as if to remind everyone that he is, in fact, still Andrew McCutchen.

The team won 10-1, which is pretty impressive for a team skirting along the fine line of contendership. If they have games like this, when they can play extraordinarily well even WITHOUT John Jaso and Gregory Polanco...then brother, we're in for a hell of a fall.

Custom Card of the Morning: Bauer Edition

The Royals...are in fourth place, and completely out of the race.

The White Sox are in third, but are so far behind the second place Tigers that we've all kind of counted them out.

So...that leaves the Cleveland Indians...with a nice stronghold on first place. And I love the fact that I am saying this phrase in 2016, a year I thought would be dominated by the Royals again. The Indians NOT ONLY have built up a rather nice roster, including a RANDOMLY AMAZING OUTFIELD featuring Tyler Naquin and Rajai Davis (and...probably Marlon Byrd when he gets back from the suspension), but they have the strongest pitching rotation in the AL, hands down.

Danny Salazar, Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco I've already spoken about, I think, this season- all three are known strikeout artists, and they're all on this season, even if it doesn't show it, as usual, in the wins column for Kluber. Trevor Bauer, however...I've skirted along in the past, but now I get to talk about him- this is one of those guys I've been rooting for ever since his debut in Arizona.

It's weird- when he got traded to the Indians initially there were thoughts of 'oh, this guy's gonna be their ace', and 'oh, he'll mop the floor with midwest batting'. But...for a while he was just an okay, strikeout-heavy pitcher in an okay rotation. The Tribe could not rely on Bauer for his stuff until they had a good enough rotation to base him around...and now they do, and now Trevor Bauer's throwing absolute fire.

The Salazar-Carrasco-Kluber-Bauer-Tomlin combination was one that was cooking for a little while, and throwing names like Cody Anderson and Zach McAllister didn't do too much other than establish the dominance of those prime five- Tomlin, while definitely bringing up the rear, has a killer win-loss ratio and is still a fantastic big-game pitcher, so it doesn't worry me.

What worries me however is my fear of the Indians peaking in August. They're amazing now, and they're killing everyone now...but I'm worried that their huge lead's gonna catch up to them, and somebody like Detroit is gonna catch up. What they NEED to do is secure a trade deadline deal, like Jonathan Lucroy or somebody, that can bolster the roster while also keeping the momentum going. Heck, they could trade for Chris Sale or Julio Teheran if they wanted to, and push Tomlin to the 'pen- that'd just piss off the league and rid them of prospects, but if they wanna win NOW...that's the way to do it.

The 2016 Indians are a wonderful baseball story...and I'd rather die than see it burn out this early.

Coming Tonight- Well...I'll be at a baseball game, odds are, a recap of that. Until then, Go Bucs!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

An Ode to the Last-Place Braves

if one receives a chance to play to lose,
In favor of success in later days,
It helps to make this choice worthwhile to choose,
Instead of failing in two billion ways.
There's only one left-hander that can pitch,
And only one third baseman that can bat.
The rest have left all of Georgia to bitch,
And all of sports to say 'imagine that'.
The team's this bad to help the prospects grow
By letting aging rejects play the field
At this rate, it's impossible to know,
What results losing ninety games will yield.
Still, for Braves fans, there isn't much to fear.
Besides- they get a new ball-field next year.

Coming tomorrow- A pitcher for one of the deadliest rotations in baseball right now...and I'm not talking about the Mets.

Even with Marco Estrada, it's not Toronto's Year

Last year, the Blue jays, at least in my opinion, had no business being unstoppable when they were. Halfway through July they decided 'hey, we're just gonna be amazing now', and the rest of the league kind of went along with it, didn't ask any questions. Hell, the Rockies even HANDED over Troy Tulowitzki.

This season...even the stuff that was working in 2015 is kind of failing them now. With the exception of Josh Donaldson and a SURPRISINGLY FANTASTIC Michael Saunders, as well as some insane pitching from Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ, and Aaron Sanchez...not a whole lot to talk about as far as Toronto is concerned.

Yeah, Edwin Encarnacion's been surging, but he's been doing that midseason so many times that we're all kind of fatigued about it. Tulo's been injured, Russell Martin's been slumping, Kevin Pillar had an amazing start and sort of...plummeted back to Earth, and Jose Bautista is juuuuuust getting back off the DL. The pieces for an insurrection aren't especially in place.

It's also not really their year. I mean, last year the division was sort of waiting for some kind of massive takeover, but here...the Orioles and Red Sox kind of have it locked up. There doesn't especially need to be a third team ruling the roost in here, because we've already got a division winner and a probable Wild Card sitting around there.

The Jays aren't even in the position to be buyers or sellers this week, either. They have no real needs to fill, and no real commodities to give away. Being in third place has kind of doomed them, in a way.  They can't really do anything about it until after the season ends, which, I will say, is kind of sad.

All they can do is keep playing as well as they've been doing, and some nice Marco Estrada starts will probably help that case.

Coming Tonight- A player for one of the worst teams in baseball.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Giants Are That Good (Again.)

What else do you want me to say? The Giants have spent the past year or so perfecting the lineup, putting the best guys up in the rotation, and fine-tuning the infield and outfield. And they're still pretty damn good. may be predictable, but I don't care. It's still happening.

Last season the infield flourished because Matt Duffy entered the equation in place of Pablo Sandoval, but also because Brandon Crawford FINALLY started hitting, and the guy has not stopped. Brandon Belt's been lucky enough to catch the bug as well. Panik and Duffy have been inconsistent, but I'm not really too worried- there's enough good on that lineup to prevent two wavering infielders from being a catastrophe. No need to Panik, that is.

Look, the rotation is absolutely spot on, even with Matt Cain being...himself as of late. Bumgarner, Cueto, Shark and Peavy are all fine, and Casilla and the bullpen aren't a problem either.

The team has enough momentum, and enough sheer talent, to be a serious force in the postseason. Only problem is the Dodgers are in danger of catching up, and could be a sleeper hit in the playoffs. They have to contend with how September usually goes for them, to get to what's usually a lively October.

Coming Tomorrow- The Blue Jays are right in the middle. This guy's been in the middle of the rotation for too long...he's enjoying a season on top.