Friday, August 28, 2009

The fourth most important World Series

1. MLB World Series
2. World Series of Poker
3. College World Series
4. Little League World Series

When I was a kid, I never played baseball. Truth be told, I've never played a game of actual baseball in my entire life. I think it's funny considering how much I love the game of baseball.

Maybe it's for that reason I don't really watch the Little League World Series. I can't relate to the kids playing. But then again, I played youth basketball and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't tune in for any sort of child basketball tournament.

I also don't really like college baseball. Other than Cal, I'm not a huge fan of college sports in general. Why? I don't like watching sports that don't feature the best. I don't care that they play harder. I don't care that they aren't "playing for money." I do care that the play is sloppier and that they make a lot of mistakes. Maybe that's why I don't like the Little Leagie World Series.

Maybe it's just because I'm not a huge fan of kids, as I've recently discovered. I don't like certain things kids do like jump up and down and hug each other and cry when they lose and overreact to everything. I don't like watching it because I used to be like that, and while that's endearing to some, it's painful and embarassing to me. Except for the crying thing. I honestly never did that. I was never a big enough contributor to any team to feel disappointed when we lost.

In any case, you could imagine my surprise when I stayed up until 1am watching the replay of Warner Robins, GA vs Chula Vista, CA on ESPN2. It was a pretty fun game to watch. Despite the wild pitches, despite the baserunning errors, despite the millions of timeouts called, I was captivated and enjoyed the game. Weird huh?

I figure there must be a reason they show the Little League World Series at all. Adults, for the most part, must really enjoy watching it. I thought it was interesting that as a kid you enjoy watching the adults, but as an adult you could enjoy watching the kids.

I probably enjoyed this specific game because of all the offense it provided, its close finish and also because California won. We'll see Saturday when I tune in for the semifinals.

Oh and by the way, the best part BY FAR was not hearing all the kids name Chipper Jones their favorite player. Now that player is Albert Pujols.

Lookalike Friday 13

Oh yeah, Lookalike Friday time! I LOVE IT!

This week we have Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Randy Wolf. I thought to myself, boy...doesn't he look a lot like...

Former child star and current train wreck Danny Bonaduce?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Takes a Lickin

You know what never fails to gross me out? When athletes lick their fingers. Athletes from all sports do it, and it's sick.

QB: I'm sure you've seen a quarterback who licks basically his entire four fingers before getting ready to get the snap from the center. Has he ever considered that the ball touches the ground half the time? Ground that gets sweated, bled, and spit on? Has he ever considered that before he gets the snap his hands get intimate with the center's nether regions?
notable finger lickers: All NFL QBs

basketball: Have you ever seen a point guard lick his fingers while dribbling the ball upcourt? I suppose a basketball court is the cleanest playing surface when compared to those of other sports, but still. Sick.
notable finger lickers: Steve Nash

baseball players: Pitchers can't lick their fingers too much or else they'll get called for a ball by the umpire, but some pitchers early in their pre-pitch routine go from the tongue over to the rosin bag and then to the ball. You've got to think that there is some rosin residue from the pitch before and that can't taste good. In fact, I'm pretty sure infield dirt which is probably all over the ball tastes like crap also. The oddest thing I've ever seen is Paul Konerko's routine when he plays first base. He licks his fingers, scrapes the dirt, and then gets ready for the pitch. Why in the world would a first baseman need to lick his fingers?!?!?!

David Wright and Barry Bonds: And then we have these two. One of the first things I think of when I think about Barry Bonds is how he was caught on camera licking his bat. Weird, right? Why would you do that? Did you spill some ketchup on it? Even if you did, just wipe it with a tissue. Or get another bat; Lord knows you have a hundred of them. I thought that was the worst thing about Barry Bonds. Forget steroids, that somewhat makes sense, but bat licking?!?!?! And then while attempting to find a picture of Barry Bond's bat lick I found this!

David, I used to be such a big fan of yours. You're an animal.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wag the Dog

Billy Wagner today OKed a trade from the Mets to the Red Sox. It was previously thought that he wouldn't accept the trade because even though the Red Sox were willing to decline their team option for next year, they wouldn't agree to not extend him arbitration.

Basically Waggles wanted to be a free agent as soon as possible so he can rack up as many saves as possible before he retires. Playing for the Mets or the Red Sox doesn't give him opportunities to close, so he'd rather this year end as soon as possible and become a free agent.

That was until today. He woke up this morning and decided he would like to play for a contender.

I was thinking, usually it's the other way around, isn't it? Guys say they don't care about personal accomplishments and would rather have the opportunity to play for a championship (Wagner has never been to the World Series)

Wagner was the other way around until today, but even if he hadn't accepted the trade to the Red Sox I wouldn't have blamed him.

Think about it. Just because you get traded to a team that hasn't been eliminated from postseason contention doesn't mean you're going to win a title. In fact, even if you get traded to a team that is IN the playoffs, that doesn't remotely mean you're going to win a title. Even if you're traded to one of the two World Series teams, there's no guarantee you're going to win the title.

If I was Billy Wagner, would I sacrifice the chance to get up the saves list for the outside chance of maybe winning a championship? Maybe not.

Billy Wagner is in a position to make a push for the Hall of Fame. If he can get 25 saves for three more years, he will be fourth on the all time saves list behind Trevor Hoffman, Mariano Rivera, and Lee Smith - two guys who will be in the HOF and one guy who somewhat has a case. Not to mention that he'll be the saves leader for lefties, which will bolster his chances that much more.

Sometimes you have to weigh the odds and set your priorities. In the case of Billy Wagner, winning a championship and racking up 70 or so more saves both help your chances of getting into the HOF, but if you have to pick one, I think it's a no-brainer.

Besides, the Red Sox aren't going to be playing mid-October baseball anyway.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Playing God-ell

Roger Goodell kicks ass and takes names. He meets with players who are in trouble, thinks about it for a couple of days, and then suspends their asses without blinking an eye.

Among others:
Adam Pacman Jones - 1 season and another 4 games
Donte' Stallworth - 1 season
Michael Vick - indefinitely
Plaxico Burress - indefinitely
Chris Henry - 8 games
Tank Johnson - 10 games

This strict enforcement of the conduct policy is refreshing. Athletes get babied their whole lives, so it's nice to see a normal looking dude classily tell them they effed up, and then tell them they can't play.

And it's even crazier how scared football players are of him. Why do punished players always say, "I respect Commissioner Goodell's decision"? because if they said anything else they would get suspended for the rest of their lives Pete Rose style.

This is all good, for now. One day soon it's going to grow old and people will all wonder if Goodell should drop an 'o' from his last name...and "ell"...and drops his entire first name while he's at it.

I just hope when it gets to that point, Commissioner Goodell eases up accordingly. Nobody likes an old white man who thinks he's better than everyone else. (See: Bill Belichick)

Speaking of which I forgot how annoying Belichick's press game conference answers are. Considering he's one of the greatest football minds ever, he says nothing insightful!!!

Reporter: Coach, can you comment on the play that put the other team ahead by 10 pts? Did you feel that you lost momentum?

Belichick (in monotone): Well...they gained a lot of yards on that one play...I mean, the qb can throw the football...and the receiver can mean...and they both have hair...and their shoes were tied, is what it is, you know?

Lookalike Friday 12

Oh yeah, Lookalike Friday time!

This week we have Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith. I thought to myself, boy...doesn't he look a lot like...

Rapper/actor LL Cool J?

btw, LL Cool J must really love sunglasses. When you do google image search, 90% of his pictures are of him wearing sunglasses.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Playoff push

Sorry for the lack of entries these days. There hasn't been too much to blog about recently. I don't want to talk about Brett Favre because the worst thing you can do for an attention whore is to talk about him, so I will not proceed any further.

Instead, let's take a look at October baseball in the horizon.

Here are the relevant MLB standings as of Wednesday, August 19, 2009:

WestEastCentralWild Card
Angels 73-45
Rangers 67-52 (-6.5)
Yankees 76-45
Red Sox 68-51 (-7)
Tigers 63-56
White Sox 62-59 (-2)
Twins 58-62 (-5.5)
Rangers (-1)
Rays (-3)
Mariners (-6.5)
White Sox (-7)

WestEastCentralWild Card
Dodgers 71-50
Rockies 67-53 (-3.5)
Giants 66-54 (-4.5)
Phillies 68-49
Marlins 64-56 (-5.5)
Braves 63-57 (-6.5)
Cardinals 69-53
Cubs 61-57 (-6)
Giants (-1)
Marlins (-3)
Braves (-4)
Cubs (-5)

My Predictions:
West: Angels
-Their lead is too big and they are such a complete team from top to bottom.
East: Yankees
-They are playing too well right now and they will keep it up enough to hold on
Central: White Sox
-I'm not sold on the Tigers' starting pitching outside of Edwin Jackson and Justin Verlander.
Wild Card: Rangers
-I really like the addition of Pudge. I think he's going to make their overachieving young starters that much better. Every team that makes a run to the World Series has an electric young player and Neftali Feliz fits the bill.

West: Dodgers
-Just barely. They win the division by a game and a half, tops.
East: Phillies
-Two words: Cliff. Lee.
Central: Cardinals
-The Cubs aren't going to end up coming anywhere close.
Wild Card: Giants
-The Rockies are hitting on all cylinders now, but can they keep it up? I don't think so. The Giants starting pitching is too good and they will score just enough runs to make it in.

Yankees vs Rangers: Yankees in 6
-I want to pick the Rangers because I think they have potential, but picking them against this Yankees team would be tomfoolery.
Angels vs White Sox: Angels in 5
-They'll all be close games, but the White Sox just don't have enough to get by the Angels.

Angels vs Yankees: Yankees in 7
-An epic battle. Yankees will simply come up with more clutch hits. The most clutch of all will be...yes...A-Rod.

Cardinals vs Giants: Giants in 6
-Carpenter vs Lincecum, Wainwright vs Cain...those will be matchups to look forward to if this series does end up happening. I think the Giants have a better bullpen...and the older Molina.
Dodgers vs Phillies: Dodgers in 6
-The Dodgers are better offensively than last year vs the Phillies. The Phillies have better starting pitching than last year vs the Dodgers. The Phillies bullpen got worse, namely Brad Lidge. He blows two saves in this series and the Dodgers take advantage.

Dodgers vs Giants: Dodgers in 5
-The Giants train runs out of gas at the NLCS.

World Series:
Dodgers vs Yankees: Dodgers in 6
-C'mon. In the off chance that all of this ends up happening and if I picked against the Dodgers and they actually won it, do you know what kind of crap I would get? Not worth it. Go Dodgers.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Lookalike Friday 11

Oh yeah, Lookalike Friday time!

This week we have a bit of a stretch, so keep an open mind. This Lookalike Friday is courtesy of my friend Andrew, and I stand behind it.

This week we have New York Yankees ace starting pitcher CC Sabathia. Andrew pointed out to me, boy...doesn't he look a lot like...

Winnie the Pooh?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Vick to the Eagles

Michael Vick has signed a two-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.

As a fan of the Eagles, I think this is a great move. A really great move.



1. Money?
In the NFL no contract is guaranteed, so if Vick ends up stinking it up, the Eagles can just cut him and be done with it. Not like he's going to be overpaid anyway.

2. Public Perception?
Eagles fans are ruthless to begin with! Dog fighting is probably not a big deal to the average Philadelphian. Eagles fans would rather win with an ex-convict than lose with a choir boy.

3. Team Chemistry?
Vick didn't get in trouble because of his character as a football player and teammate. He got in trouble because he had some off color hobbies. I guarantee you no former Atlanta Falcons teammate has anything bad to say about Vick as a football player and teammate.

4. Distractions?
This Eagles squad's middle name is distraction. In the last few years: Andy Reid's sons' legal problems, Donovan McNabb's contract, the whole T.O. thing, Shelden Brown, Lito Sheppard, Brian Westbrook contract disputes. This team finds ways to block things out and play on Sundays.

I'm looking forward to seeing Michael Vick as an Eagle. I think he can add at least an element of surprise and/or distraction to opposing defenses.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

I bought half season tickets for the Dodgers this season. It's the first time I've ever purchased any ticket plan for any professional team. I wondered how easily I could sell my unused tickets and how much I would lose overall. The state of the economy fueled most of my worries, but I went through with it anyway.

Thankfully, with 4 games left that I am looking to sell tickets to, I have been able to break even. Selling tickets has been easy on stubhub and I plan to get full season tickets next year.

I've been fortunate because attendance at baseball games is down. Even at Dodger Stadium, which has been consistently in the top 3 every year in attendance, some games you are surprised at how many empty seats there are.

You know, I always wondered what it must be like to go to a 18,000 person Florida Marlins game. It must be pretty freakin awesome if you're a Marlins fan.
1. Ticket prices must be dirt cheap.
2. If you shout at players they can actually hear you.
3. No crowded parking or concessions lines.
4. There aren't enough people to successfully execute a wave. (GOD I HATE THE WAVE)
5. If you go to an empty outfield section, as long as you are the first person to get to the home run ball, it's yours! You don't even have to catch it.

I took a look at the top 15 teams in attendance this year and calculated the percent change in attendance from last year to this year.

Club% Change
Red Sox+.8%

I knew the Tigers were going to get hit, but not this hard. You can blame the decrease in the Mets probably on ticket prices and lowered performances by the team. The Yankees' ticket prices are well documented and account for their decline.

I was actually surprised to see a few teams actually increase. I guess it's no shock that the World Champion Phillies would see an increase in attendance, but they had essentially the same lineup as they did last year. And I don't think you get 2,000 more fans a game because of Raul Ibanez...unless they're fans of Slingblade and the Astronaut Farmer. So it looks like the notoriously hardcore sports fans of Philadelphia are somewhat bandwagoners after all.

Another surprise was Milwaukee. That team outside of Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun (who they both had last year) sucks. Did they just now find out about the awesomeness of Prince? Or maybe it's just because there really isn't crap to do in Milwaukee.

I really hope attendance figures can bounce back next season. A baseball game is such a fun time that I don't think enough people get to experience.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Don't Blow It

So I was thinking about blown saves the other day after Big Jon Broxton blew one versus the Braves.

As background info, here are the rules that govern a "save"

From MLB Official Rule Book 10.19:

A save is a statistic credited to a relief pitcher, as set forth in this Rule 10.19.
The official scorer shall credit a pitcher with a save when such pitcher meets all four of the following conditions:
(a) He is the finishing pitcher in a game won by his team;
(b) He is not the winning pitcher;
(c) He is credited with at least ⅓ of an inning pitched; and
(d) He satisfies one of the following conditions:
(1) He enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning;
(2) He enters the game, regardless of the count, with the potential tying run either on base, or at bat or on deck (that is, the potential tying run is either already on base or is one of the first two batters he faces); or
(3) He pitches for at least three innings.

The rules are pretty self explanatory. If you have a hypothetical situation where you're not sure if it should be a save, please post it.

So it seems pretty simple.

Get the last three outs of a ball game with up to a 3-run lead. Yet, how many times do you find yourself shouting at the TV, "Oh my God, I wicked hate you *closer*. You ALWAYS blow saves!!! If we had a good closer, we would have won this game."

Well, let's take a look at some notable closers and their save percentages to see what is an acceptable save percentage.

NameSavesSave %
1. Trevor Hoffman 579 89%
2. Mariano Rivera 514 89%
3. Lee Smith 478 82%
4. John Franco 42481%
5. Dennis Eckersley 39085%
6. Billy Wagner 38586%
Francisco Rodriguez (K-Rod)23286%
Joe Nathan 229 89%
Jonathan Papelbon14089%
Bobby Jenks 139 87%

The first 6 are the top 6 all time leaders in saves, and the last 4 are current closers widely considered to be "automatic"

Two things jumped out at me:
1. How many players have a save percentage of 89%
2. There are no players over 89% in save percentage.

A typical closer makes about 50 appearances in save situations per year. Therefore, each percentage point drop results in a loss of half a save.

So in conclusion, as long as your closer is saving games at a rate in the mid- to high-80's, you can't really ask for more.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Lookalike Friday 10

Oh yeah, Lookalike Friday time!

This week we have Colorado Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler. I thought to myself, boy...doesn't he look a lot like...

Farnsworth Bentley?

I don't know what in particular makes me think of Farnsworth Bentley when I see Dexter Fowler, but I do. I think it has to do with the long chin and brilliantly straight teeth.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

NFL Preview

So I printed the schedule and predicted the winner of each game. I wrote down the results. Here they are. This is in no way scientific or based on statistics. This is all from the brain of Toni Broxton. This will become obvious by the time you get to the end of the post.

End of Season Standings:

*projected playoff team
New England (10-6)*
Buffalo (6-10)
Miami (4-12)
New York Jets (3-13)
San Diego (13-3)*
Oakland (7-9)
Denver (5-11)
Kansas City (5-11)
Tennessee (13-3)*
Indianapolis (12-4)*
Houston (11-5)
Jacksonville (10-6)
Pittsburgh (14-2)*
Baltimore (11-5)*
Cincinnati (6-10)
Cleveland (2-14)

Philadelphia (13-3)*
New York Giants (10-6)
Dallas (6-9)
Washington (6-9)
Arizona (10-6)*
San Francisco (5-11)
Seattle (3-13)
St. Louis (2-14)
Atlanta (12-4)*
New Orleans (11-5)*
Carolina (11-5)*
Tampa Bay (2-14)
Green Bay (13-3)*
Minnesota (10-6)
Chicago (7-9)
Detroit (3-13)

- I have no 8-8 teams. This is a problem. There are always a few 8-8 teams.
- The last team to get their first win is the Detroit Lions (week 9, at Sea)
- The last team to get their first loss is the Pittsburgh Steelers (week 12, at Bal)
- Can you tell I'm high on the Packers and Texans? (I could be so off on both of them)
- The AFC South is ridiculous. The AFC South is like the NL West. Bold prediction: All four teams in the AFC South will reach at least 10 wins.
- New England with only 10 wins? Yes they get Brady back, but I'm still not sold on their defense.
- The Chargers have a couple of tough teams to play, but for the most part they play an EASY schedule.
- Baltimore makes it over Houston to the playoffs based on division record tiebreaker.
- Miami falls from 11-6 to 4-12. They were able to sneak up on a lot of teams last year. Their schedule is so much harder this year. I just don't see them being able to win more than 4 games this year.

Byes: Tennessee, Pittsburgh
Baltimore at San Diego: San Diego
Indianapolis at New England: Indianapolis

Indianapolis at Pittsburgh: Indianapolis
San Diego at Tennessee: San Diego

Indianapolis at San Diego: Indianapolis

Byes: Green Bay, Philadelphia
Carolina at Atlanta: Atlanta
New Orleans at Arizona: New Orleans

New Orleans at Green Bay: Green Bay
Atlanta at Philadelphia: Philadelphia

Philadelphia at Green Bay: Philadelphia

Super Bowl
Philadelphia over Indianapolis

Yes. That's right. Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl XLIV Champions.


*note: 8/7/09 - changed winner of AFC Championship to Indianapolis, changed Super Bowl matchup. forgot the Chargers have Norv Turner as head coach.

Tit for tat

If your pitcher hits my batter (especially the best batter), then my pitcher is going to hit one of your best batters.

Such is the mindset behind retaliation in baseball. It's barbaric, testosterone induced, outdated, macho behavior that should have no part in a professional game between men who depend on the health of their bodies for their livelihood.

Yet......I absolutely love it.

Hockey has its fights, football has its blindside legal hits (i.e. Hines Ward to Keith Rivers), and basketball has hard fouls for showboaters.

Without retaliatory hit by pitches, baseball has no method for players to police themselves, and as savage as it may be, this is important. Plus it increases the possibility for a brawl, which everyone loves.

I've never been a professional baseball player, so I have no idea, but it seems like the pitchers who do throw retaliatory pitches do so out of their own free will, and are never instructed to take action.

That having been said, it also seems like every pitcher knows when he should do the deed, it's just a matter of if he does. It almost always seems like if he actually goes through with it, he gains a lot of respect in his clubhouse.

The only crime in all of this is when the pitcher has to pretend to have done it on accident in post game interviews so he won't get suspended, even though everyone in the stadium knows it was on purpose. I really love it when the pitcher says, "Yeah I had to do something, so I took care of business."

I would be really sad if baseball started to really crack down on retaliations. If they did, you wouldn't get moments like this: