Archive for the ‘American League’ Category

Last Chance

After a really disappointing end to the 2011 Baseball season, I was close to saying “Screw you Boston”, throwing away all my Red Sox memorabilia and finding another team to follow. The problem was, I love baseball and would have to follow someone. But who?…what team would be so lucky to get me as their #1 fan?

Here was my criteria:
1. Had to be an AL team ( NL sucks..although the Brewers and Cubs were considered)
2. Can’t be on the West Coast- the games are on to late. But when we move to Seattle in 10 years, I will support the Mariners.
3. Has to be an American team – Sorry Toronto.
4. Yankee’s and Rays are automatically out- my hate burns too deep.
5. Preferably a team with a bit of history/tradition.

Surprisingly, the two team that I came up with were the Detroit Tigers and the Baltimore Orioles. For some odd reason, I have a really old picture of myself and my dad wearing Tigers hats. I was maybe a year old? I think my Dad bought them was because he really liked Sparky Anderson..or maybe it was because there was a “D” for Dave on it? Who knows, I never asked. I do know It’s one of my favorite pictures.
As for my second choice, Baltimore. I really can’t pinpoint it- they seem like a nice team, their players stay out of trouble, Boog’s BBQ, Camden Yards and who didn’t like Cal Ripken. Plus, my Little League team was once the the Oriole’s. Silly reasons, I know..but they made the cut to the short list.
I want to follow a team that plays hard, has me on the edge of my seat on every pitch and hopefully win their fair share of games. That’s not too much to ask for is it?
Ultimately, I fought the urge to become what I loathed- a fickle sports fan. If my fandom can survive Bucky Dent, Bill Buckner and Aaron Boone- surely it can be resuscitated after a historical 2011 collapse. I guess we’ll have to see what this team is made of in 2012.

All this leads up to my question- if your favorite baseball team ceased to exist for what ever reason…who would you follow, and why?

2007 Red Sox year in review

Coming into spring training in 2007 the Boston Red Sox were a very different team than the one that finished in third place in the AL East. After a very disappointing 2006 season, the Sox made a huge splash in the free agency market, landing notable players Julio Lugo, J.D. Drew, and the biggest prize, Dice K Matsuzaka. Boston had set a few goals in the offseason to improve team speed and starting pitching and bolster an inconsistent bullpen.

With a bunch of new players added to the roster, there were a lot of questions concerning the 2007 Red Sox in spring training. With Jonathan Papelbon set to join the starting rotation, the Red Sox had open tryouts for the closer position. Guys like Joel Piniero, J.C. Romero, and Mike Timlin all took their turns trying to close, all with out success. Curt Schilling came in to camp looking heavy and out of shape after an offseason of promoting his video game company. Josh Beckett was a question mark after his disappointing first season in the American League. Boston gave the starting second base job to an untested rookie in Dustin Pedroia, even after he failed miserably during his 2006 September call-up. Of course Manny was being Manny, going back and forth on wanting to play for the Red Sox. And it seemed like David Ortiz had something hurting from day one. It was hard to predict how this team would do. This was a team that had the potential the play in the World Series or suffer the same fate as the 2006 team.

We all know what happened next. The Red Sox jumped out to huge lead in the AL East behind some great early season pitching by their starters, and Jonathan Papelbon jumped back into his closer role. Even though new starters Lugo, Pedroia and Drew were struggling miserably the first months of the season, Terry Francona kept running these guys out there, giving them every chance to turn things around. Despite the poor performances by these players, the Sox kept winning, eventually increasing their lead in the AL East to a whopping 14 1/2 games over the New York Yankees.

There were times during this season that I really thought I was in Bizzaro World. Big Papi went from a home-run crushing powerhouse to an on-base percentage machine. Manny Ramirez stopped hitting home runs and seemed to ground into a thousand double plays. Mike Lowell went from a career .280 hitter to the Red Sox MVP and team leader in clutch hits and RBIs. Kevin Youkilis turned into the best defensive first baseman in the American League, committing zero errors at the position all year. And Japanese import Hideki Okajima went from Dice K’s security blanket to an All-Star set-up man.

Going into the All-Star break, the Sox had finally started to get some production from Pedroia and Lugo. Beckett was pitching the best baseball of his career and Boston was holding the best record in the major leagues. Then things began to change for the worse. Schilling’s lack of offseason conditioning finally caught up to him, landing him on the disabled list for six weeks. Manny strained his oblique muscle and began the longest oblique-muscle rehab in the history of baseball. The New York Yankees started playing great baseball, eventually cutting the Red Sox lead to 1 1/2 games.

All these things turned into a blessing in disguise. Without the injuries to Schilling and Ramirez, we may have had to wait another year before seeing rookies Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury take the league by storm. If the Sox didn’t get beat up by the Yankees at the end of the season, they may not have learned the resilience to never give up when the playoffs rolled around. With this team, it seemed like they seized every opportunity and dictated their own fate.

The Sox eventually won the AL East and with a healthy roster and the playoffs starting, the Red Sox looked to be a team of destiny. They buzzed through the L.A. Angels of Anaheim, sweeping them in three games behind the pitching of Beckett and the offensive rebirth of Big Papi and Man-Ram. In the ALCS against the Cleveland Indians, it was time to jump on Beckett’s back again. It was also time to put our faith in the future as Pedroia, Ellsbury, and Youkilis carried the offense, helping Boston to rally from a 3-games-to-1 deficit and advance to the World Series.

In the World Series against the Colorado Rockies, it was men against boys. Boston got solid contributions from every player in the lineup. Every game someone new stepped up to be the hero for the Red Sox, eventually leading to a four-game sweep and the second World Series title in four years.

The Boston Red Sox came into the 2007 season full of question marks. Would Manny be back? Who would be the closer? Will Dice K live up to expectations? Could Boston finally dethrone the Yankees? As these questions were eventually answered, a new one popped up.

How many World Series can the Red Sox win in a row?

The League of Ordinary Gentlemen

With the Boston Red Sox already clinching the AL East title and home field advantage throughout the playoffs, I thought I would write about what I feel is the worst thing about American baseball: the Jan Brady of the major leagues, National League baseball.

The NL for me is really hard to watch. I’m sure it has something to do with growing up in New England and being exposed to AL baseball before there was interleague play. There were very few National League games on TV in New England. After watching some of the junior varsity baseball that’s being played in NL cities, I am thankful for this. Here is a fact: Nobody wants to see pitchers stand at the plate and either watch pitches go past them without ever letting the bat leave their shoulder or, even worse, think they can hit and end up flailing around with the bat. Pitchers are an easy four outs a game, every game. It’s tough to watch.

People can say what they want about the designated hitter. That it’s unfair to have a guy that only hits. That the DH isn’t a real ballplayer. That you should have to field and throw. But when guys like David Ortiz or Frank Thomas come to the plate, no one changes the channel. Can you say the same when Pedro Martinez is up?

It’s no coincidence that the American League has the better record in 8 of the 11 years of interleague play and has 10 of the last 11 All Star games. It should also be noted that this season, teams with a .528 winning percentage are making the playoffs in the NL. This same team in the AL would be watching the playoffs from their couches.

NL fans state that there is more strategy in National League games, with double switches and small ball. The AL could implement these strategies. But why? They already have superior pitching, better hitting, and more exciting games. With another World Series coming to the American League this season, I wouldn’t change a thing.

A season for the birds

Great! The Red Sox are playing the Baltimore Orioles again. Boston is already 10-4 against them this year and winners of the first game of this series. The Orioles are 24 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East and have routinely found ways to lose ballgames this year. I wonder how this series is going to turn out.

Regardless of what you see in the standings, the Orioles are the worst team in the American League. This is a team with a $95 million payroll, the 1oth highest in all of baseball, and they have been getting pounded lately. Recent loses have included a 30-3 nail biter to the Texas Rangers and 17-2 thrashing at the hands of the always tough Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Not only are Oriole fans outnumbered at home by Red Sox and Yankee fans, but they are shelling out a lot of money to see players like Kevin Millar, Jay Payton, and Aubrey Huff, players who have bounced around to several teams and routinely stink it up. To make matters worse, the Orioles have lost ten straight games at home, and Baltimore’s three best pitchers are on the disabled list at the price of $19 million a year.

Jim Palmer wearing Jockey underwearWatching last night’s game, things got so bad that Oriole announcers Jim Palmer and Gary Thorne were yelling at the Oriole players in disgust when they threw to the wrong bases, allowing the Red Sox to sneak back in the game. Maybe Jim “Jockey underwear” Palmer could have dusted off his jock strap and attempted yet another comeback. It couldn’t be any worse.

This is an organization that had some great Hall of Famers over the years – Cal Ripken, Jr., Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer – and has won the World Series three times. But with an owner like Peter Angelos spending wastefully on a glorified men’s softball team, it appears that the Orioles have flown the coop.

5 Reasons I hate the J.D Drew signing

In this week’s Fair or Foul Question of the Week, we take a look at J.D. Drew.

Five reasons I hate the J.D. Drew signing:

  1. 70 million dollars.
  2. He averages 100 games a year. If you work part time, you should be paid part time wages.
  3. .264 batting average, 6 home runs, 2 stolen bases, 82 strikeouts…and counting.
  4. You should not be allowed to suck in the National League and then sign in the American League. NL is the Junior Varsity. National League pitchers get 6-8 easy outs every game pitching to pitchers and #8 hitters. In the AL, pitchers work for every out. No Freebies. By the way, I love the DH.
  5. J.D.‘s nickname should be “The Tin Man.” If he only had a heart. Have you seen this guy play? His expression never changes. He looks like the Mona Lisa playing right field.

What do you think? Vote in the poll at right.