Category Archives: Uncategorized

Vance Worley Will Do Whatever it Takes

It’s no secret that Vance Worley has been struggling this season. After receiving the honors on opening day, Worley has managed just a 4.84 xFip and is striking out a paltry 4.6 batters per nine. Can Worley break out of his funk? Major Leaguers have been known to do some strange things to recapture the spark…

This explains why Worley is, apparently, pitching with a hamster in his pants.

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Owen: 1-0; Raphael and Justin: 0-1

While the ‘Stros-Rangers game has not yet ended, with the ‘Stros up 7-2 in the bottom of the 7th, I am already declaring victory in my bet against Justin and Raphael re: the Astros Winning.

I believe this is commonly referred to as “counting one’s chickens before they hatch” or “hubris.”

I laugh in the face of such cosmic forces.

Anyway, here is a GIF that expresses the outcome of this particular bet.

(Justin and Raphael are the pitcher, and I am the batter. This post is the gratuitous bat-flip and slow trot.)

Owen’s Finalized 2013 MLB Standings Predictions

On last week’s show, Justin and I talked about our predictions for each division, as well as the wildcard, pennant, and World Series victors. Since then, my opinions have changed slightly due to a last-minute free-agent move, and new opinions of some players’ abilities. But mostly, this article is about bold predictions. While it is likely that most of what I predict here will not come to pass, I will point to any events I predict that¬†do come to pass as evidence of my genius. Read on for more…

Here are my finalized predictions for 2013:

AL East:
Blue Jays
Rays
Red Sox
Yankees
Orioles

If you listened to the podcast, you know how much I like the Blue Jays. This year, they lead the league in home runs and runs scored, while also finishing top ten in runs allowed. All starters not named Emilio Bonifacio finish the season with more than twelve home runs apiece. I’ve also changed my opinion on the Rays, elevating them above the Boston Red Sox (who I do think will surprise some people this year). The Rays will be carried by their pitching and by scoring runs at exactly the right time, which amazes everyone but Joe Maddon, who shrugs, holds up a calculator, and says, “I pretty much had this figured out last week.” The Yankees are booed repeatedly at home by their own fans, causing a noticeable uptick in the Global Happiness Index, as the rest of the world celebrates their failure. Vernon Wells hits 30 home runs. The Orioles lose two of their elite relievers to injury and Jim Johnson fails to replicate his 2012, probably because he can’t strike anybody out…ever. Consequently, the O’s finish in the basement yet again, causing a major crime wave in Baltimore as fans unleash their anger. No one notices the crime wave.

AL Central:
Tigers
Royals
White Sox
Indians
Twins

Justin Verlander fails to post a sub-2.00 ERA with 300 strikeouts, but still ends up sub-3.00 with over 225 strikeouts, all while making 33 starts (they skip his last start when they’ve already clinched). Offensive production is hindered as V-mart just can’t stay healthy and everyone not named Miguel Cabrera or Prince Fielder fails to do anything with the bat. As much as it pains me to do so, I’ve elevated the Royals above my team, the White Sox. Driven by anxiety that he will never be able to live up to the combined performances of Jake Odorizzi and Will Myers, Shields excels, posting an ERA around 3.00 and winning 17 games. Ervin Santana tries to give up home runs, but nothing reaches the fences in Kaufmann stadium, where they’ve gone against the grain and moved the fences back to remove seats in an effort to make the stadium look more full. Hosmer and Gordon enjoy bounce back seasons and help to make the Royals top six second best in the league. The White Sox pitching staff continues to be strong and Chris Sale makes more than 30 starts, defying every self-appointed elbow surgeon, physical therapist, and ESPN analyst under the sun. The Pale Hose just tell John Danks to go home, using Axelrod and Santiago as a 5th starter combination every bit as dominant as that thing in Power Rangers that was just the combination of all of their robotic spirit animals put together that they should have just used at the start of the final battle because that would have made much more sense… Konerko continues to age slowly, Dunn continues to strikeout too much, Rios has a slightly down year and Viciedo isn’t prepared to carry the team offensively. The Indians improve, but no one notices, and the ~9,000 fans they do have don’t even notice that they’ve hired Terry Francona, one of baseball’s best personalities. The Twins have a worse record than the Marlins but a better record than the Astros.¬† Joe Mauer convinces management to sign his new-born twins to minor-league contracts. Gardenhire’s contract is not renewed and GM Terry Ryan resigns (again) after season’s end. The new GM focuses on building a team that actually fits their ballpark, rather than building a ballpark that doesn’t fit their team.

AL West:
Athletics
Angels
Mariners
Rangers
Astros

The Athletics continue to use platoons at virtually every position to great effect. Their pitching staff continues to be among the best in baseball, with a whole bunch of dudes you’ve never heard of winning games at some point or another. During an early-May game, controversy erupts after a ground-rule double is ruled on a ball that gets lost in Josh Reddick’s beard. George Steinbrenner emerges from his grave and convinces Bud Selig to mandate that Reddick shave daily. The Angels’ offense carries the team, with Mike Trout’s regression to a sub-.300 BA going unnoticed due to his still stealing 50 bases and scoring 130 runs. Jason Vargas, C.J. Wilson, Tommy Hanson, and an aging, dead-armed Jared Weaver hold the Halos back. The Mariners surprise everybody with a big second half, mostly due to huge home run numbers from Morse, Smoak, Morales, Montero, and (maybe) Saunders. Those who know what weather is like in the Pacific Northwest are not surprised. The Rangers have an extremely disappointing year, deal most of their valuable contracts in August and September to begin rebuilding, call up Jurickson Profar, and, most importantly, fire Ron Washington before the season ends. The Astros surprise everyone by winning 65 games.

NL East:
Nationals
Braves
Phillies
Mets
Marlins

Nationals pitching continues to dominate and Bryce Harper leads a sufficiently powerful offense to lock up the division late in the season over the talented Braves. Harper throws out more than ten baserunners attempting to tag-up on fly-balls hit to the warning track. Announcers repeatedly confuse the Upton brothers, and then just start calling Jason Heyward “Jason Upton,” confusing everyone even more. The Phillies struggle offensively, but get good enough pitching from Hamels and Lee to outpace David Wright and 24 other guys you don’t give a shit about. After an ineffective but occasionally promising first half, it is revealed the Roy Halladay will need yet another surgery on some part of his arm, and he announces his retirement at the end of the 2013 season. The Marlins surprise everyone by winning more than 60 games and Giancarlo Stanton surprises no one by hitting a baseball through the glass at the back of Marlins stadium and then giving Jeffrey Loria the finger.

NL Central:

Reds
Brewers
Cardinals
Pirates
Cubs

The Reds dominate this division again, while the Brewers take everyone by storm. With a good offense and pitching that’s more than just good enough, they eke into second place. The acquisition of Lohse proves smart, as Lohse wins 16 games despite an elevated ERA. The bullpen ultimately costs the Brewers a shot at the playoffs, whether in the regular season or in the first round of wildcard play that we all know isn’t the real playoffs. Adam Wainwright disappoints by not making significant improvement on his 2012 performance while Jake Westbrook, Lance Lynn and the rest of the rotation collapse around him like the 2012 staff of in-state rivals, the Royals. The Cardinals lose at least one outfielder to injury, who is promptly replaced by Oscar Taveras, who fails to meet expectations set for mid-season rookie OF call-ups in 2012 (see: Mike Trout, Bryce Harper). Andrew McCutchen continues to carry the Pirates but their pitching absolutely sucks, with A.J. Burnett failing to replicate his 2012 (and frankly not giving a shit, since he’s basically already announced his retirement at the end of 2013), Wandy Rodriguez continues to decline, and second-half-of-2012-James-MacDonald continues to suppress the blossoming flower that was first-half-of-2012-James-MacDonald. The Cubs disappoint all of their fans by failing to win more than 70 games. The fans, none of whom are from Chicago anyway, since they’re just a bunch of Lincoln Park yuppies, respond by saying, “Huh? Where’s the beer guy? I gotta go piss in one of those troughs.” But then they accidentally piss in the dugout and no one stops them. Several drunken yuppies are killed by falling concrete at Wrigley.

NL West:

Dodgers
Giants
Diamondbacks
Padres
Rockies

Tim Lincecum rebounds and the Giants starting rotation continues to post one of the lowest ERAs in baseball. Buster Posey remains healthy, and Brandon Belt steps up, but the poor health of Kung-Fu Panda and the rest of the team’s general suckitude suppress overall offensive output. The Dodgers don’t blow anybody’s mind in the early going, and Carl Crawford just all out blows, but the team picks up the pace when Hanley returns, doing more just enough to eke out the division. Greinke makes 30 starts, Beckett posts a sub-4.00 ERA, and Kershaw continues to send asses to the pine like nuns at a Catholic elementary school. Kenley Jansen takes over the starting job before the end of May (least bold prediction EVER). The D-backs are sorry they traded Upton, and their pitchers continue to not quite live up to expectations. Adam Eaton becomes the new face of the franchise, scaring away any and all potential new fans. The Rockies score a ton of runs, but their pitching staff surprises everyone by still being as bad as they were in 2012. The Padres get marginally better, but still basically suck. Cashner isn’t ready and only Maybin can do anything with a bat, but Street stays healthy enough to earn 30 saves and post a sub-2.00 ERA.

AL Wildcards: Rays, Angels
AL Pennant: Blue Jays

NL Wildcards: Braves, Giants
NL Pennant: Nationals

World Series: Blue Jays.

Is This the End?

by Raphael

First off, let me clarify that yes, this article is biased. I am a huge Roger Federer fan. I despise all things Rafael Nadal. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let me begin.

As I watched Rafael Nadal deliver a resounding 6-4 6-2 beat-down to Roger Federer at the 2013 BNP Paribas Open, I was not angry. I wasn’t even disappointed. I was sad. I was not sad because Federer was losing. I was sad because I was thinking about a post-Federer world.

The Federer-Nadal rivalry is, in my opinion, the greatest head-to-head rivalry in the history of all sports, not just tennis. All of this has been said before. The contrasting styles, the contrasting personalities…. we get it. If you’re a serious sports fan, you’ve probably seen Federer and Nadal play each other at some point. There are points from the 2008 Wimbledon final that are permanently burned into my memory. Their matches used to make me so nervous that I would pace around in the front of the TV during big points.

As an avid tennis player myself, I have enormous respect for Rafael Nadal. He is incredible. His forehand is ridiculous. His movement is scary. On the other hand, Roger Federer represents everything that a serious tennis player wants to be. He can do it all. At the height of his game, from, 2004-2006, Federer’s forehand was probably the single greatest shot in the history of the game. His ability to force every opponent to play on his terms was mind-boggling. He literally invented shots that have become a necessary part of a successful pro’s arsenal. Watching him play so far beneath his ceiling last night, largely due to a sore back that limited every aspect of his game, I accepted that the best days of this rivalry are probably behind us. There’s a good chance that Federer will beat Nadal again, but I’m pretty sure that it won’t be in a Grand Slam final. Rafael Nadal, at 26, is still close to his physical peak, even with his wobbly knees. Federer, at 31, is clearly not. Last night’s back injury was part of a larger pattern that has emerged over the last two or three years. He now plays most of his evening matches wearing an undershirt to apply pressure to his back and keep it warm. His feet are starting to slow down. He only hit a sprinkling of forehand winners last night, compared to what felt like a billion errors.

This rivalry was a huge part of why I fell in love with tennis. As it begins to wind down, I think we should all take a moment to think about how lucky we are to have seen these two guys play. The Djokovic-Murray rivalry is alright, but they play virtually the same brand of tennis, and their matches all come down to who executes just a little bit better on that given day. Federer-Nadal was different. It just was. I’m going to miss it.

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