2014 Predictions: The Lazy Version

kc1

 

Alright, I had planned on writing a long, drawn out prediction on the upcoming 2014 season(which goes into full force tomorrow). But alas, time got away from me. There was work to be had, sleep to be slept, and new Muppet movies to watch. So instead of a long-winded version of ‘War and Peace’, instead you get a quick summary, with a few notes. Actually, this should be way easier to read and also easier to go back on later this year and mock me for my awful picks. So without further ado, here are my 2014 baseball predictions that will be scoffed at come June.

kc2

American League East

1. Boston Red Sox

2. Tampa Bay Rays

3. New York Yankees

4. Baltimore Orioles

5. Toronto Blue Jays

Kansas City Royals Photo Day

 

American League Central

1. Detroit Tigers

2. Kansas City Royals

3. Cleveland Indians

4. Minnesota Twins

5. Chicago White Sox

kc4

 

American League West

1. Los Angeles Angels

2. Oakland A’s

3. Texas Rangers

4. Seattle Mariners

5. Houston Astros

kc5

 

Wild Card Winners 

Tampa Bay and Oakland

kc6

 

American League Championship Series

Boston over Los Angeles

kc7

 

American League Award Winners

MVP: Mike Trout(FINALLY!)

Cy Young: David Price

Rookie of the Year: Yordano Ventura

Comeback Player of the Year: Grady Sizemore

kc8

National League East

1. Washington Nationals

2. Atlanta Braves

3. Miami Marlins

4. New York Mets

5. Philadelphia Phillies

kc9

National League Central

1. St. Louis Cardinals

2. Pittsburgh Pirates

3. Milwaukee Brewers

4. Cincinnati Reds

5. Chicago Cubs

kc10

National League West

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

2. San Francisco Giants

3. San Diego Padres

4. Arizona Diamondbacks

5. Colorado Rockies

kc11

Wild Card Winners 

Pittsburgh and San Francisco

kc12

 

National League Championship Series

Washington over St. Louis

 

National League Award Winners

MVP: Bryce Harper

Cy Young: Adam Wainwright

Rookie of the Year: Gregory Polanco

Comeback Player of the Year: Ryan Braun

 

kc13

 

World Series

Washington over Boston in seven games

Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals

 

So there you go. If this was an accurate science, everyone wouldn’t look so foolish by October. I think no matter what happens this season, it will be another fun season. Youth is dominating the game nowadays and I don’t think that is going to change anytime soon. All we can do at this point is strap in and enjoy the ride. Baseball is back, folks. That within itself makes this the best time of the year. Play ball!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Why I Can’t Be Bothered By Baseball’s Cheaters

kc1

Over the last year I’ve had a few people tell me that my stance on baseball’s PED users almost makes it sound like I am okay with them cheating. With Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun being the first casualty of the Biogenesis scandal(he will be serving a 65 game suspension this year, which means his 2013 season is over with), it seems like the appropriate time to lay my cards on the table and just say what I really feel about the steroid mess we’ve dealt with these past 15 years. It’s a complicated debate that has no right or wrong answer, and really is not white and black as much as gray.

kc2

Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve tackled this subject that quite honestly I am tired of talking about. There is this. And also this. Whoa, I guess that last one didn’t really quite pan out the way I thought. My bad. Anyway, there is a good chance that if you discuss baseball, even if it is just with your buddies while drinking a cold one, you have debated steroids in baseball, or just cheating. To be honest, I am a firm believer that cheating has always occurred in baseball and always will. There is no stopping that. Sure, you can try to weed out the bad seeds, and to a degree it works in the long run, but you will never catch everyone. So why is there such an uproar about cheating now than any other time in history? It’s simple; the cheaters knocked fan’s heroes off their pedestal.

Barry Bonds

Barry Bonds isn’t a likeable guy. Never has been. He has been a pain in the ass from day one. Don’t believe me? Just ask Tigers manager Jim Leyland. But the biggest offense Barry ever made was breaking Hank Aaron’s career home run record. Aaron not only was a great symbol of all that was great about baseball, but also baseball commissioner Bud Selig’s hero. Anyone remember when Barry broke the record? Bud was watching up in the box and if looks could kill he would have done just that to Bonds. I know in some circles Bonds’ record is ignored, but the honesty of the situation is this is the baseball world Selig created, so he only has to look into the mirror to place blame. Bonds, the poster boy for the ‘Steroids Era’, dethroning Aaron is exactly what happens when business men let greed control their business decisions. There are many who think this record is now tainted, but remember– for the longest time Roger Maris breaking Babe Ruth’s single season record was considered ‘tainted’ because it was done in more games. I’m not saying it was okay for Bonds to cheat; what I am saying is it was allowed to happen and is now part of baseball history.

kc4

I guess that is what I need to clarify here. No, I don’t like that cheating was so glorified in baseball during this period. No, I do not feel like it was good for the game, even if it was profitable. But I’m not naive. There was cheating when Ruth played. There was cheaters when Mantle, Mays and Aaron were playing. Oh, I’m sorry, I’m not supposed to discuss greenies, am I? Because to be honest, amphetamine use was just as bad as steroid use. Both help you bounce back quicker from game to game. So why is that not as looked down on as steroids? There was just as much rampant use of greenies, but it was never shoved in anyone’s face. It wasn’t paraded around and used to ridicule those in charge. It was used behind closed doors and no one was the wiser. Baseball became a joke and it was the people in charge that were to blame and anytime that happens…well, when that happens those people with power use their power to make those players pay for being so ballsy.

Baseball 2006

That right there is why I quit caring if any baseball player used something they weren’t supposed to. When the higher ups in baseball decided not only to not take blame for any of the problems happening with their lack of a drug program, but then pointing fingers at players while not pointing any back at themselves, well, why should we care at that point? I’m not saying the players shouldn’t be blamed, or the players union. No, both shoulder a fair amount of that burden. But there is more than enough blame to go around, and to have the hierarchy of baseball act like they were disgusted, while making truck loads of money, well, I can’t just act like that is not one of the most hypocritical things I have ever heard. Bud Selig should have stood up, said he was just as much to blame for letting it go on as long as it did, and then profess to clean up the game. Instead, he acted sick to his stomach that these players would do such a thing. That is why I don’t care. But that isn’t the only hypocrisy going around baseball.

kc6

A large portion of baseball’s Hall of Famer’s have also spoken out against steroid use, yet are just as bad about their cheating ways. So none of those Hall of Famers ever used greenies? No corked bats? No spitters or illegal pitches? Not so fast, Gaylord Perry. Perry is a known cheater and yet was welcomed into the Hall with open arms! So it’s okay to throw an illegal pitch, but dammit, those damn steroid users, they ruined the game! Newsflash guys: IT’S ALL CHEATING! You can’t excuse one and abhor the other. Here is the kicker to this whole thing–at some point, while trying so hard to not let in any steroid users, they are going to let in someone who never was on the radar. Never looked the part, never gave a hint they were using. But they’ll get in. Then, with all the other guys on the outside looking in, some not even having any proof against their supposed “guiltiness”, will realize that the system is flawed and that they got screwed. Just another reason why the arguments against steroid users have become a joke.

kc7

So do I have a problem with players who use illegal substances in 2013? The honest answer is I just don’t care anymore. There is no way to ever catch everyone, and very few in the game can ever walk away saying they are a saint. Is it right? Nope. Not even a bit. But is it our reality? Yes, yes it is. I am not naive–this will still be going on in five years, ten years, fifteen. Major league baseball has a good testing program, and guys do get caught, right, Bartolo Colon and Melky Cabrera? Instead of just accepting that the system is working nowadays, Selig has gone out of his way to prove a point. Ryan Braun is just the first. Alex Rodriguez is on deck. But should we care? No, no we shouldn’t. Baseball has allowed this to be an issue, by ignoring it for so long. So let these guys use what they feel they need to. It soils the game, yes. But is it worse than gambling or racism has been for the game over the years? Nope. It’s just another chapter in a book on how if you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying.

Cementing a Legacy

budssss

With the Major League Baseball All-Star Game taking place tomorrow, it would appear to be the time to shine a light on all the positives so far in the 2013 campaign. Instead baseball is staring down the barrel of a giant mess that could be a black eye the game is not prepared for. Word leaked this past week that the commissioner’s office was planning on suspending possibly as many as 20 players after this week’s All-Star break for their involvement in the Biogenesis clinic in Miami. Baseball is using the word of Tony Bosch, the owner of Biogenesis, which seems shady within itself. Bosch has already lied when the Biogenesis issues were first brought to light, and then tried blackmailing Alex Rodriguez, hoping that A-Rod would fork over the dough for Bosch’s silence. Doesn’t exactly seem like the most honest fellow, does he? But even if Bosch backs up his word with hard, real evidence, it doesn’t mean this issue is cut and dry for baseball.

kc1

There has been word that Rodriguez and Ryan Braun would catch the heftiest of penalties, 100 games which is normally reserved for players on their second offense. Except neither guy has an official first offense on their record. The thinking by the commissioner’s office is that the two-time offense would be A) receiving performance-enhancing drugs and B) lying about receiving said drugs. This not only seems like a big reach, but also seems like a scary, slippery slope to start gliding down. Once you say they can be suspended for two offenses at once, where does it stop? It almost seems like baseball, and more specifically Commissioner Bud Selig, is making up the rules as they go. To be honest, this whole issue reeks of Selig wanting to fix his initial error. You know the one I’m talking about, that whole “Steroid Era”?

kc2

Selig has been adamant that he knew nothing about steroids being so widely used in the game during this era, but are we really to believe that? There is no way the head chief of the entire game has no clue about something that pretty much everyone else was aware of. The truth of the matter was that baseball flourished from the power surge steroids brought and elevated the game coming off of the 1994 baseball strike. Selig and his owner buddies all made crazy money, hand over fists, during this period and only put a stop to it once congress decided to step in. So to make up for this, Selig wants to nail anyone to the wall who is or has used PED’s. But this might not turn out the way he thinks. Sure, a large portion of the suspended will take their suspension and serve it. But Braun and Rodriguez probably won’t, and don’t be the least bit surprised if this ends up going to court. Now answer this; is this whole thing worth it if it means all anyone is talking about within baseball is PED’s and court proceedings? Nope, it sure isn’t.

kc3

This thing could drag on for quite awhile, and it won’t take long for some people to just be sick of it. All this so Selig could fix his major screw up and fix his legacy, a legacy that already has a strike, steroids, a missed World Series and a tied All-Star game. This will just be the cherry on top, more bad press for an otherwise elegant game that if kept between the lines is holding up as one of the brighter eras the game has ever seen. Instead more steroid talk, more finger pointing and name calling. Way to cement your legacy, Allan. I can’t see where this is the best thing for baseball, Instead I see a desperate man willing to use sketchy characters just to prove a point. The old saying goes “if you sleep with dogs, you’re bound to get fleas”. When this is all said and done, I have a bad feeling Selig will be itching quite a bit.

Perfection (and Why it is Easier to Accomplish)

Yesterday, Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners threw a perfect game, the first of his career, the first in Mariners history and the third overall this season. Not only that, it was the sixth no-hitter thrown this year in Major League Baseball. The last two years, pitchers have been all the rave in baseball, and the focus has been more on what happens on the mound than what happens at the dish. When did this happen and why is it good for baseball?

Last year was considered by many to be the year of the pitcher, a nod back to 1968 and a year where pitchers dominated, especially Cardinals Hall of Famer Bob Gibson who led the National League that year with an ERA of 1.12, a modern baseball record. It also forced baseball to lower the mound, to give hitters a “fair chance” against the pitchers who were dominating the game at that point. This year seems like a continuation of the Year of the Pitcher, with all of the perfect games and no-hitters being thrown around baseball and pitchers putting up flashier stats than their hitting counterparts. A big part of why this is happening is because of all the young pitchers scattered across baseball. Younger pitchers have sprouted up across the majors the last two years and not only are they young, but they throw harder and seem to have a good grasp on how to actually pitch, not throw. This has led to pitchers gaining an advantage over the hitters, a good sign for baseball after the years of power, which is often referred to as the “Steroid Era”.

The “Steroid Era” is another reason for the pitchers success over the last two years. Major League Baseball’s drug testing has proven to be topnotch, and other than the gaffe in the Ryan Braun positive test, no one has been able to successfully appeal a suspension handed down to them by MLB. With the success rate they have had with their testing, many players have chosen not to even chance it when it comes to trying to use banned substances. Sure, there will be guys like Melky Cabrera who either try to see what they can get away with or just aren’t smart about it, but most players know the testing is improving at a rapid rate and is not worth chancing it. Therefore, less players that are chiseled out of granite and more professional hitters litter the baseball  fields of 2012.

With all that drug testing being put into affect, it has made it to where teams focus less on homeruns and RBI’s. Instead, more value is shown to stats like OPS and WAR. Both stats show more of a players full value instead of just focusing on one simple area. While these stats will give you a more patient hitter, which is good, it can also give you a player who strikes out a bit more often, or a hitter who puts the ball in play more. Both are hitters that a pitcher like Felix Hernandez or Justin Verlander loves, as both are efficient starters who attack the strike zone and have nasty stuff to back it up. A power hitter can hurt you in more than one way, where as a singles hitter can hurt, but more likely to put the ball in play. Both can hurt you, but more pitchers would rather face a slap hitter than a slugger. Less loaded lineups lead to an advantage to the pitchers.

Maybe the biggest reason for the influx in pitching has been the focus by a lot of teams on pitching and defense. For years, the saying has gone ‘pitching and defense wins championships’. This philosophy was successful for many years, but after the 1994 baseball strike, it seemed many a team got away from this way of thinking. With power going out of vogue again, more teams stocked up on pitching and better defensive players. More teams will get by with a player who isn’t as good offensively if they bring great defense to the table. Ask Felix Hernandez how much it helps having Brendan Ryan playing Shortstop for the Mariners?  Ryan might barely hit .200, but he gives Seattle Gold Glove defense. Having that on your team can help, but can also make it easier for a pitcher to attack the bottom of your batting order. Utilizing these methods can both help and hurt your ballclub, leading to some really great pitching performances.

All in all, this wave of great pitching has really showcased the game of baseball. After years of sluggers with Popeye-like arms, we are now in an age focusing more on the little details of the game. No one knows how long it will last, but it probably means we will see more no-hitters and perfect games before it is all said and done. Hopefully it won’t dilute the game, only highlight all the great things that the game of baseball brings to the table.

Perfection be thy name!

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑