Is it still considered “early”?

On my fantasy team I have Adrian Gonzalez, BOS as my primary first baseman and Ian Kinsler, TEX at second.  I drafted them both early, really early, and they are absolutely KILLING ME.  Kinsler started off decent in his first few games but has been atrocious since.  Gonzalez, well I think he just never got started (and yet has somehow been declining).  There are guys in the free agency who are playing way better than these 2 and could be earning me way more points.  I know it’s still early but it’s not that early.  So my question is this – At what point do I give up on these guys?

A baseball season is a funny thing.  In other sports like football a couple games can make or break your season.  You can have a run of luck – good or bad – and that will determine if you schedule playoffs or tee times.  But in baseball you can start slow, struggle, slump – and still manage to come out on top.  Why?  Because the season consists of 162 games and winning 90 or so of those is usually enough.  Baseball is more about endurance and consistency.  Luck might win a game or 2, but it won’t win a season.  So what can the first dozen or so games really say about a team’s or player’s ability?  Unfortunately…not much.  You have to wait it out a bit longer to see.

Baseball can often get started uncharacteristically.  Great teams will lose and terrible teams will win.  Gazillion dollar sluggers will go 0-for and gold glovers will make errors.  Guys you’ve never heard of before will clobber the ball and show up on web gems.  The first couple weeks is always fun, watching the oddities unfold and slowly shape into more realistic outcomes.  But sometimes these unusual situations linger, making you wonder if it’s a fluke start or if a particular team or player is going to maintain this level of play.

Look at Boston.  Before Opening day – many had picked them to go to the world series this year – some even to win it.  Yet they have been creeping around in baseball’s cellar from day one.  Their starting pitching is miserable.  They score runs – more than 4 per game on average, they just keep offering up meatballs at the dish and letting the other team score more.  And there isn’t much sign of improvement.  (Which keeps me wondering how Gonzalez is going to heat up with no real sparks around him)

How about those Royals?  They tore out of the gate and have been playing their hearts out and are currently 5 games over .500.  Sitting just above them atop the AL Central is – the Indians?  And they’re doing it without 2 of their best guys!

The best team in all of baseball right now isn’t as much of a surprise – it’s the Colorado Rockies.  We knew they’d be good, but they’re rolling like a well oiled machine.  Troy Tulowitzki is ridiculous right now, and with 7 home runs already he’s on pace to hit 75!  DAANNMMM!  I’m curious to see how long they can stay afloat up there in the #1 spot! 

Now – about my Cardinals.  Sheesh.  We struggled at first but just finished up a 10 game road trip where we went 6-4, which is pretty good.  But it could have been much better if we hadn’t blown 3 saves (4 total on the season).  All of them came from the arm of the now former closer, Ryan Franklin.  YIKES.  Honestly – I feel sorry for the guy.  Am I frustrated?  Hell yeah!  I doubt there are too many people in the Cardinal’s family – immediate or extended – who aren’t, including Franklin himself.  But he’s human.  Baseball is his job.  It’s not like he goes to the mound and says “Eh, I’m not feelin it today, I’ll just lob them in there for now.”   He’s struggling.  He’s frustrated.  He’s thinking too much, trying too hard.  We’ve all been there.  No matter what job you’re in you have days or weeks where you just can’t seem to get things right.  And the harder it is, the harder it gets.  I’m thrilled we’re not going to use him for saves right now – partly for the sake of the team and actually winning games when we’re up, but also so Franklin can feel a load of pressure off his shoulders while he works out whatever isn’t working.  And when he gets his groove back, I’ll be glad to see him in the 9th again.  One thing I can tell you though – is that when you’re having a hard time, being crucified for it by thousands of people certainly isn’t helping.  He’s off to a slow start, but I’m betting he’ll be back. (On a better note – the Cardinals rank first in the National League in batting average (.298), hits (164) and runs scored (87).  So that can give us something to smile about!)

So as we look around the league in this, the 3rd week of baseball – which teams/players are showing their true colors and which teams still have to morph back into themselves?  Who is playing on a sustainable level and who is yet to bounce back to reality?  How much more time do I wait on Kinsler and Gonzalez to start hitting like I know they can, when there are more stable guys available to take their place?

Give me your feedback, baseball fans!

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Everyone wears 42

Yesterday – April 15 – marked the 64th anniversary of the day Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier by making his debut into Major League Baseball.  An infielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers, he stood up for his rights and the rights of all people of color despite the difficulties he would face for it.

When he came up to bat catchers would spit on his cleats.  Pitchers often threw at his head or his legs.  He received countless hate mail and even death threats.  Some of the death threats were very specific.  A man once wrote to Jackie that he was going to shoot him during the game on a certain day.  Jackie told his teammates before the game that he understood if they didn’t want to sit near him in the dugout for fear of a bad shot hitting them by mistake.  Regardless of all of these things – Jackie played ball.  And he played it well.

Jackie’s father, not a man of fidelity, split when he was an infant, leaving his mother to single-handedly raise her four kids.  He excelled as an adolescent in football, basketball and track in addition to baseball.  He spent some time in the army and was court martialed for refusing to sit in the back of the bus.  (Charges were eventually dropped and he was honorably discharged.)  He then went on to play in the Negro League and eventually – for the Dodgers.

 Jackie was named Rookie of the Year and later won MVP awards as well.  Martin Luther King, Jr. has credited Jackie Robinson with starting the civil rights movement as his debut in baseball marked the first major integration of blacks and whites.  He accomplished so much and has earned the undying respect of people nationwide for decades, and that respect will likely carry forward for who knows how long.

Yesterday every player in baseball wore number 42 on their backs to pay tribute to the great Jackie Robinson.  His number has been retired league wide (Mariano Rivera was grandfathered in and still wears 42 today) and every year we celebrate the many things that one brave man accomplished.

Thank you Jackie Robinson.  Your courage and talents changed baseball, and America, forever.


My blog may not be much, but at least it’s about baseball…

As some of you know (and many of you don’t know) I recently applied for a job at MLB that they were calling the “MLB Dream Job”.  Obviously I didn’t get it – as I was competing with approximately 10,000 other people and hardly possess an “encyclopedic knowledge” of the game.  (I knew I was a long shot but just had to apply.)  The job was to consist of residing in NYC and spending a great deal of time in a setup that was conducive to being able to watch every single game throughout the baseball season.  (For those of you who are mathematically challenged – that’s 2,430 games in all.)  Using social media such as facebook and twitter, as well as their own website for the MLB Fan Cave, the Dream Jobbers would then talk about everything baseball.  They would be expected to attend media events, press conferences and other baseball related things, plus have the opportunity to entertain various players and celebrities as they stopped by the “Fan Cave” and write about what they were seeing and experiencing.

Having not gotten the job – I was still excited to see how it all turned out!  I was eager to know more about the guys who had beaten me out for the job I was almost slightly qualified for, and to see exactly what fun stuff they get to experience.  MLB hired two guys – Mike O’Hare, aka Mikey Oh, and as his wingman Ryan Wagner.  Both guys seem to be a good fit for the Fan Cave in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village and held their own while being quizzed extensively about baseball by the MLB Network’s staff.  Their resumes are extensive and their video submissions make mine look like I recruited my 5-year-old niece to direct it.  Mostly though, I was looking forward to having a one-stop-shopping blog that could keep me up to speed with everything baseball, as well as being entertained by their witty style and interesting stories.

So far I have been disappointed.  The blogs have been about a variety of things, some of which only slightly relate to baseball, and many not at all.  Writing about Joe Maddon being ejected from a game is great if the blog talks about the conflict that caused the ejection, or managers who are commonly hot heads and get ejected, or whether or not you agree with ejections – presenting various arguments for and against it, or how a team’s manager being ejected affects the rest of their game…  But instead the blog was nothing more than a mere mention of him being thrown out with a description of how sharp he looked as he argued with the umps.  It did state that his cool and trendy attitude is a good fit for the young Ray’s, but I would have liked an elaboration on how and why his style works so well with his players.

Maybe I have misunderstood the concept.  According to the “About” tab on the MLB Fan Cave’s page – Mikey Oh and Ryan Wagner are supposed to blog about their day-to-day experiences in the fan cave and about…pop culture?  Really??  Because that doesn’t exactly make sense to me.  Let’s put 2 guys in front of 15 screens and make them watch every single baseball game that is played in the 2011 season, up to 15 games a day, and have them talk about Snookie retiring from Pro Wrestling and Harry Potter’s graduation from Hogwarts.  I mean obviously that requires “encyclopedic knowledge” of the game of baseball and obviously you can’t write about those things having not seen every baseball game to date. . .is anyone else confused?

Listen – I know that these guys are as new to this job as this job is to – well – existence.  And I’ve enjoyed some of the blogs on things like stadium foods and tweeting your beer vendor.  But it seems like there should be a larger focus on baseball and less on pop culture.  I, personally, would prefer to read about player analysis, team analysis, even division analysis; who’s hot and who’s not, bloopers and big plays, fantasy impact on the rise and fall. . .I want to read about what is currently going on in baseball!  Is that so much to ask from a couple of guys who are living the dream and being paid to do nothing but watch the games and hang out with the players?!  Because honestly, from what I’ve read – I’m over-qualified for that job.


And so it begins. . .

First of all – let me apologize.  Here I am starting a blog, telling everyone I know to read it, subscribe to it and tell all your friends all about it….and then I stop posting!  Aghhh – what a pain-in-the-ass am I? 

Well, first off – writing a blog is not exactly difficult, but it’s not exactly easy either.  I’ve spent a fair amount of time lately learning how to use all the gadgets and menus and widgets and blogrolls…and spent very little time writing.  Also – I work a full-time job that often takes up far more than 40 hours a week, and it’s a little hard to keep up with all of baseball and write about it.  But I promise I will try my best do a better job moving forward.  So, with that said….

What a start it has been to the 2011 season!  This year seems to have everything off base (pardon the pun).  So far we’ve seen a bottom rung team start off 6-0 (BAL) and a top pick for the WS start off 0-6 (BOS).  We’ve seen the reigning WS Champs struggle to play .500 ball (SF).  Pujols can’t hit – except into double plays, and a random rookie from PIT has had a hit in each of his first 10 games! (Pujols is batting .229 and is on pace to hit just over a dozen homers this year.  Jose Tabata, PIT, didn’t get a hit in his 11th game but did still get on base.)  Jeter is struggling.  Hanley sucks.  Cliff Lee’s ERA is reaching for 8.00!!  Now wrap your head around this: Some sources list the #1 overall player in the game so far this year as – Dan Haren, LAA!  And right behind him is Jared Weaver, LAA at #2!!  With somewhere around a dozen games behind us, things sure aren’t looking as many would have expected.  The thing to remember here is that baseball is a marathon, not a sprint.

While many teams are playing uncharacteristically good or bad, the season is young and a lot can change before the pennant race…or as quick as a single 3 game series.  Chances are both the Red Sox and the Giants will get into their grove and be contenders down the stretch.  The Orioles will likely lose more games than they are right now and slip into a more familiar spot near the bottom of the standings.  Pujols will start hitting the ball into orbit and Tabata will go 0-for.  Cliff Lee’s ERA will plummet, Hanley will improve and Jeter will, well, age.   As far as those 2 angel’s pitchers?  Well I doubt they’ll remain in the top 2 spots in all of baseball.  What is interesting though, is that a lot of teams and players can surprise you.  How a team looks on paper can vary drastically from how they play on the field.  It will be interesting to see how these oddities normalize themselves and which teams and players will shock the baseball world with above-their-potential abilities.

What I find entertaining is how quickly the fans will turn on a guy (or an entire team) who’s slumping for a mere handful of games.  I’ve heard numerous people already talking about Pujols, saying things like the bastard should have signed when he had a good deal in front of him…the way he sucks right now he’ll be lucky to get $20 million for 7 years…let the Cubs have him!  Seriously people??  He’s off to a slow start and yes I’m frustrated about it.  But give the man a break – he’s put in 11 solid, awesome, amazing,freakishly phenomenal seasons, and you want to toss him aside over a rough couple of weeks??  I know — the at-bats are piling up and the man just doesn’t seem to have it, but the offense around him looks to have finally kicked in.  Lets see if that can spark him and give him a few more games before we castrate him and curse him to the Cubs of all teams!

Other interesting tidbits in baseball thus far – Bud Selig completed 1,000 consecutive days riding a bike.  No – seriously.  Now that’s no Cal Ripkin, but is worth noting (or so I read).  This week celebrated the 134th anniversary of the catcher’s mask.   Where would our backstops be without that?!  On a more serious note – a Giants fan, Bryan Stow, decided to attend the team’s season opener in LA against the Dodgers and was beaten to a pulp in the parking lot outside the game by several Dodgers fans.  He remains in critical condition as teams, fans and others raise money and support for the victim and his family.  Seriously people – I love baseball and I love a good rivalry – but to resort to violence just because someone likes another team more than yours?  Are you 14 years old?  WTF?


Opening Day

The first day of a baseball season brings with it many reasons to celebrate.  The reuniting of us with our “summer friends”, the end of a long and dreary winter, a cold beer at noon…ahhh opening day.  It often falls on a workday forcing thousands of us to cash in some vacation time.  Wouldn’t it be easier on employers if we could just make it an official Holliday? (and no – that’s not a typo)  I scheduled a Dr. appointment for Thursday morning so that I had more of an excuse to take the day off, only to have my Dr. cancel the appointment leaving me free to head downtown even earlier! 

After spending an hour or so in Keener Plaza wandring around the pep rally, my family and I headed to Paddy O’s.  If you don’t already know – they’ve built on and it’s now HUGE!  (They also bought Al’s and plan to turn it into parking, so the pre- and post-game options are now one less.)  I tend to wander off a lot, so it wasn’t long before I lost track of my family and hung out with some old friends for a while before heading into the stadium.

As I walked in I marveled.  It’s not like I’ve never been here before – I average between 45-60 games per year, and I was just here 4 days ago for a stadium tour.  But still, there’s nothing like opening day.  Soon I was watching the players ride around the stadium in Ford trucks, and then – the game.  And it was a good game (for the first 10 innings anyway).  Franklin allowed the Padres to tie it up in the 9th, then Theriot struggled to make a play in the 11th, then sailed the ball over Yadi’s head and we lost 5-3.

But opening day isn’t totally about the game.  It’s about a fresh start to another season.  It’s about getting your baseball friends back together after a winter spent apart.  It’s a team of players with blank stat lines and the possibilty to fill them with big numbers.  It’s the beginning of endless trash talk in fantasy leagues.  Opening day is a celebration that baseball has finally returned after what seems like an eternity without it.  Yes, it’s about the game and yes we want our team to win.  But opening day is a great game even when it’s not.  Because whether you’re at home in front of the tv, at work sneaking it on your computer, or at the stadium with a beer and brat, you know that this day – you get to watch the ball game.  And what’s even better??  There’s 161 more to follow.


A little bit about me

Welcome to my baseball blog.  I’m no one of particular importance, but I happen to love baseball and enjoy writing, so creating a baseball blog only seems natural to me.  Why it just occurred to me tonight to do it I have no idea.  But, never-the-less, here I am.

My first entry is just a little introduction about me.  This is my first experience blogging  so bear with me as I settle into my blogging style and learn how to use all the confusing tools I have access to on here.  🙂  Hope you enjoy!

 

 

People often ask me how a girl got soooo into baseball.  Well – a lot of things factored into it, and the timing of all of those things colliding made the impact that much more intense.  But honestly, the foundation was always there.  I’m from St. Louis, MO, home of the St. Louis Cardinals.  Those of you who know – well, just about anything about baseball – know that St. Louis fans are considered to be some of the best fans in the game.  We have the intensity you might find in Boston or New York, the dedication through thick and (extremely) thin that you see at Wrigley Field, the respect Phillies fans are oblivious to, and the knowledge that rivals ESPN’s staff.  We recognize and often applaud a good play – even if it’s against us – and win or lose, we draw a crowd.  I grew up in “Baseballtown, USA” – being a Cardinal’s fan was inevitable.  Becoming a fan of the other 29 teams?  Well there’s no better city to raise you to respect your opponent and hold even your biggest rival with regard.

After a disgusting breakup in my early 20s I was desperate for a distraction.  It was early spring and I was at a new job.  I overheard the guys planning their fantasy baseball draft.  I, of course, knew very little about fantasy sports or how they worked, but it sounded fun so I pushed my way in.  Being the only girl in a 16 team league, it was assumed that I would suck.  The guys insisted that I choose a rather girlie team name, making it obvious that I don’t entirely belong.  So I named my team My Little Pony.  (Several times that season I found myself in first place, so I appropriately changed my team name to “Your Losing To A Girl.”  They didn’t find it as funny as I did.)  That summer I learned so much more about baseball and began to fall in love with players and teams all over the country.  (I finished 6th overall, out of 16, not too bad for a girl, huh?)

For 7 years my family had season tickets, so I went to dozens of games each year and drank plenty of beer in nearby bars.  One night I randomly met a guy who played for the Cardinals.  A few weeks later I met a guy from the Reds.  Then a Mets pitcher.  I soon became close with a guy who seemed to know just about everyone in baseball, and he roped me into his circle as “one of the guys.”  Over the course of a few years I had built a handful of good friendships that I still cherish to this day, tons of acquaintances and possibly even a couple of enemies in Major League clubhouses.  (This eventually spilled over into the world of agents, scouts, front office folks and, down the line, even a couple of people from ESPN.)  Knowing various people around the leagues increased my interest in other teams – and suddenly I found myself watching Pirates games, following the Nationals religiously, flying to see games that weren’t even the Cardinals…  Some of these teams were, at times, painful to watch – yet I was captivated.

It’s been several years since my love for the game turned into a slight obsession, and with each passing season I find more reasons to fall even deeper in love with the game.

Tomorrow is Opening Day 2011.  The Cardinals play at 315, following the traditional Player Parade and the team of Clydesdales pulling the Anheuser Busch beer wagon around the warning track.  We have one of the most elaborate opening ceremonies in all of baseball; it’s pretty amazing.  If you ever get the chance to see it – I recommend that you do.  Even if you’re not an STL fan, you’ll be amazed.  New players are often seen with video cameras taking it all in – wanting to freeze the moment in time.

I’ll be heading downtown around 10 to start celebrating with pep rallies and baseball’s version of tailgating.  (commonly known as hanging out and drinking in a bar pre-game)  Check back later – I’ll let you know how it goes!