Category Archives: MLB

A Tribe Like No Other

There are many words that can be used to describe the 2016 Cleveland Indians, but the best way to describe them would be resilient. Without a doubt this team, on paper, did not look like a playoff contender at the beginning of the season. Somehow they started winning games. No Michael Brantley, no hitting from catcher, a rookie center fielder. Somehow they managed to find ways to defy the odds.

Once September hit it was a forgone conclusion that the Indians would win their division. Then Danny Salazar leaves a game with a forearm strain. A few games later Carlos Carrasco leaves his start less than an inning in after being hit in the hand by a pitch. All of a sudden the Indians are facing the playoffs without their 2nd and 3rd starting pitchers.

Then they end up with the Boston Red Sox in round 1. The best hitting team during the regular season. Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, and Josh Tomlin led the Tribe to a sweep and the right to take on the Toronto Blue Jays for the pennant.

The Indians dispose of Toronto in 5 games and many wonder just how this team has come this far. Their incredible resiliency allowed them to face adversity and keep on pushing all the way to the World Series.

Both the Indians and the Cubs knew going in that after game 3 the Cleveland pitchers would be operating on short rest. This meant a longer series seemed to favor the Cubs. Cleveland jumped out to a 3-1 lead needing one win in three games, two being at home, to win their first title since 1948.

In the end it was not meant to be. The Indians and Cubs took us on an emotional roller coaster throughout game 7 before the Chicago Cubs were able to wipe away their over a century of sorrows with championship shirt.

For Cleveland fans, such as myself, this loss joins the losses to the Braves in 1995, the Marlins in 1997 to form a terrible trio of memories in the World Series as the organization looks for their first title since 1948.

There is hope for next season, as Brantley and Carrasco will be back from injury, as well as the core of the team. With these experiences the Indians will be able to put themselves in this position again next season. Hopefully with a different result.

Curse Broken

Game 7 of the 2016 World Series sent fans through a full range of emotions. For both sets of fans only Satan could have devised a more cruel, heart-wrenching affair between two organizations that are the very definition of championship starved. However, after ten long innings, and for the first time in 108 years:

The Chicago Cubs are World Series Champions!

After the leadoff homer by Dexter Fowler it seemed like it would be the Cubs night, however a couple errors by star 2nd baseman Javier Baez allowed the Indians a chance to stay close. Then came the 6-1 lead. There is no way the Cubs can blow that right? Oh wait, soon it became 6-3 and suddenly it was time to bring on the fireball hurling Aroldis Chapman. Then the unthinkable happens, Chapman actually gave up a hit! A home run  to tit the game at 6 in the bottom of the 8th inning! Out of nowhere the Indians ties the game off Chapman of all people. The hard-throwing left hander would pitch a scoreless ninth inning before the rain would cause a delay.

This rain delay caused the momentum, which had shifted in the Indians favor, to level out some. Bryan Shaw, who finished regular innings, would go on to load the bases before two runs scored to make it 8-6 Cubs in the middle of the 10th inning! Carl Edward’s Jr. was brought in to see the game out, and it appears he will do just that after he got two quick outs. Then Brandon Guyer gets on base, then steals 2nd. 8th inning hero Rajai Davis singles home Geyer to make it a 1 run game with 2 outs. A pitching change is made and Michael Montgomery is able to get Michael Martinez to ground out to end the game.

After that. Extreme jubilation for a fan base that no longer had to wait for their hero’s to bring home a championship! The goat is forgotten. Steve Bartman can be forgiven (maybe not quite yet). All because the Cubs won the World Series!

One Game: Win or Lose

commissioners-trophy

One game is all that remains to decide it all. One game to end a streak that predates entire generations of two fan bases.  One game to see who takes home the coveted Commissioners trophy. One game.

For so many people there are childhood memories of playing baseball Sandlot style with friends, imagining that it is Game 7 of the World Series. For a precious few these dreams are given a chance to be fulfilled as they are able to make it to the MLB. Still many of these players will never taste the glory of victory that comes with lifting the Commissioner’s trophy at the end of a 162 game regular season and a grueling three rounds of playoffs. As October gives way to November there are two teams who remain that can do just that: The Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians.

For the Cubs fan base it has been 108 years. Generations of fans lived and died without seeing their beloved Cubbies win the World Series, however their hope has endured. Revitalized by the development of youth brought in by Theo Epstein, and led by Joe Maddon, the Cubs are one game away from ending the longest drought in professional sports. With one win these young Cubs can make half a city forget about goats, and maybe even allow the misdeeds of one Steve Bartman to slowly fade away.

For the Indians fans base it has been 48 years since their latest World Series title. Only one member, 1st baseman Eddie Robinson, from that team is till alive as Tribe fans hope to close out what could be a fairytale summer in Cleveland. The Cavaliers brought the city their first championship since the Browns won the Super Bowl in 1964. Now despite all the team has been through this season, the Indians stand nine innings away from winning the World Series at home. Memories of the Atlanta Braves, and Florida Marlins may finally begin to fade away as Terry Francona leads his young team into this, final game of the 2016 MLB season.

As the curtains close on the final act of the 2016 season we are left with one game. One final chess match between managers Maddon and Francona. One final game to end a drought. 54 outs. Only one can be crowned 2016 MLB champions. One Game.

On to the Series


Carlos Santana reacts to making the final out to send the Cleveland Indians to their 1st World Series Appearance since 1997
Carlos Santana reacts to the final out of the ALCS

The 2016 season has been a bumpy ride for the Cleveland Indians, but thanks to their manager and their team chemistry the Tribe have reached the World Series.

The biggest part of this team has been the decision making skills of manager Terry Francona. Tito has had plenty of experience in these high pressure situations and it has shown, most importantly when it comes to pitching decisions.

In Game three the Indians started Trevor Bauer, however after two thirds of an inning his stitches had ripped out and he was unable to continue. Tito spent the next 8 1/3 innings putting his best relief pitchers through more innings than most would be use to, however they answered the call by only allowing two runs on seven hits.

One of the most surprising, but important decisions of Game 3 came in the 7th inning when Francona brought in closer Cody Allen to help get the Tribe out of a tough inning. Not only was Allen able to get out of that inning, but he also got the first two outs of the eighth inning as well.

One of the biggest reasons that the Indians are headed to the World Series is the play of Andrew Miller. The righty was acquired by the Tribe at the trade deadline, and has proved to be a major piece of the puzzle for the team. He was awarded the ALCS MVP award, but promptly told everyone that he did not deserve it, and that the team around him was the reason he was able to accomplish what he did.

While Game 3 was a fantastic example of Terry Francona’s genius from the dugout, the Game 5 performance of young Ryan Merritt was something that can help the team throughout the next round. Before the game Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista said that Merritt would be “shaking in his boots” when he took the mound at Rogers Centre on Wednesday evening. The opposite occurred as the young lefty threw 4 1/3 shutout innings before handing the game off to the rock-star bullpen. With unproven players like Merritt, only one major league start before Wednesday, showing that they can step into the spotlight when needed, the Tribe look poised to give their next opponent a difficult test.

It may be team chemistry and it may have a little to do with the man calling the shots, but there is one thing for sure, the underdogs are still among the teams that have a shot at bringing home the title. Their opposition will easily be the favorites in this upcoming series, but that has not seemed to mind the Indians before, and it should not bother them now.

Welcome to October

In most cases it took 162 games to decide who was worthy of battling for post-season glory. For the San Francisco Giants and the Toronto Blue Jays it took an extra game to decide who would have the right to face each conferences number 1 seed. Now it is time for the real games to begin!

In the National League we have two matchups that have the potential to be straight pitching duels.

San Francisco Giants v. Chicago Cubs

This matchup pits the best team in baseball against the team that has won the World Series in the past 3 even years. The Cubs had the best pitching staff in baseball. Led by aces Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta, Chicago was first in the league in ERA(earned runs average), Opp. BA(opponents batting average), and WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched). They were assisted by a lineup that was in the top 5 of the league in both runs scored and OBS (on base percentage). This combination of pitching and hitting led the Cubs to win 103 games.

Their opponents, the San Francisco Giants, had to rely on the Wild Card game to gain entry to the playoffs and therefore will not be able to count on a game 1 performance from ace Madison Bumgarner. This season, the Giants have counted on their pitching staff, who was 4th in baseball in ERA and WHIP. Where the Giants will struggle is at the plate. They were middle of the league in all hitting stats this year.

Because of the large difference in quality of these teams, the Chicago Cubs are the easy choice to move on to the NLCS.

Los Angeles Dodgers v. Washington Nationals

This series appears to be set up as another pitching duel. The Dodgers staff was 5th in ERA and 2nd in WHIP and Opp. BA. This was without having Clayton Kershaw for most of the season, but he is now back and looks ready to go for the post season run. On the other side of the field,  the Nationals pitchers were also top five in these three pitching stats this season. They are led by Max Scherzer and are looking to advance to the NLCS this year.

The other key component for these teams is hitting. Both teams are fairly even here as well. They spent the season being middle of the road at the plate, which makes this series likely to be dominated by pitching.

In the end, the Dodgers will be able to prevail as they have a deeper rotation to call on and that will allow their stars to be more sharp when they are called upon.

In the American League there are two vastly different series. The Toronto Texas series appears to be more of an uneven series, while the Boston Cleveland series seems to be evenly matched between the two teams.

Toronto Blue Jays v. Texas Rangers 

This series is not going to be a matchup of top pitching staffs. The Rangers were in the bottom 1/3 of the MLB. On the other hand,  the Jays are top 5 in pitching this year.

When it comes to performance at the plate, both teams rank in the top 10 in most categories.  Because of this, there is no edge at the plate due to the reliance on power hitters by both teams.

Despite having to play in through the Wild Card game, the Toronto Blue Jays will be successful in this series as they are the more well rounded team. Their pitching strength will help them keep the Rangers off the board, while their bats will give them a lead to work with. This series will be worth some extra attention not only because of the caliber of teams that are playing, but also because of their history. Earlier this year these teams had a brawl in their final meeting, which led to quite a few susensions, but also seemed to spark the Rangers to get to this point.

Cleveland Indians v. Boston Red Sox

This series features two teams with top tier pitching talent. Both of these staffs were inside the top 10 in ERA, WHIP and Opp. BA throughout the course of the 2016 season. With that being said, the Red Sox have the edge here since the Indians have two of their top pitchers, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, out for the rest of the year.

With the Tribe losing the edge in pitching, they will also be behind the eight ball at the plate as Boston was 1st in the MLB in runs scored, BA, OBS, and Slugging percentage. The Indians were not too far behind, placing in the top ten for each stat, however if they can not get runners on base then the most aggressive base running team in the majors will not be able to get runners in good position to score enough runs to beat Boston.

In the end Boston will come out of this series victorious due to the fact that the Indians have a weakened rotation and have been less successful at the plate than the Red Sox have been this year.

The Final Chapter

Today, Monday April 4, 2016, is the final time that the Atlanta Braves will host an Opening Day within the confines of the I-285 circle that tries to keep the city of Atlanta out of the suburbs. Only opened in 1996 as an Olympic venue, Turner Field is not a very old park but it is already being replaced by the ownership of the Braves. The new venue, Suntrust Park is located outside the I-285 loop, known affectionately to native Georgians as The Perimeter, in nearby Cobb County. This move will put the park in a better area in terms of they types of people that live in the surrounding area, however it will move the Braves away from the area that houses so many historical memories from the Braves teams of the past.

One such landmark that is going to be left behind is the important  spot near Turner Field where the outfield wall at the old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium stood.  There is one part that is commemorated by a plack that will live in the minds of baseball fans and historians forever. This is the spot where Hank Aaron’s record breaking homerun landed. This is where the record long held by Babe Ruth. Not only will the Braves be leaving their home since moving from Milwaukee, downtown Atlanta, they will be completely leaving the site of their greatest triumph. The team won the 1995 World Series over the Cleveland Indians in the second to last season ever played in the old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. This regime of the Braves seems as if they would rather send Turner Field out with yet another terrible season than with a string of good seasons such as the ones that closed out the old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. The current Braves roster has former Braves players Jeff Francoeur and Eric O’Flaherty, both of whom have been washed up and oft injured players during the past few years. The front office seems more focused on winning games next year rather than this year and show this by trading all players that could get valuable prospects out of. This is shown by trading players that the fans lived and were widely considered the best players on the team at the time. Examples being Andrelton Simmons and Craig Kimbrel traded over the last two off-seasons in exchange for young prospcets and replaced by aging washed up players like Jason Grilli and another former Brave Kelly Johnson. If the Braves organization really cared if the team was successful this season they would have kept all of the talent that they had worked hard to produce such as Jason Hayward but instead they let all of their still relatively young homegrown talent leave for other clubs. While the Braves farm system consistently produces good players the fans of the big league team would like to see them for play for the Atlanta Braves for more than a couple of seasons.

Maybe with the opening of the new stadium next season the Braves will turn over another leaf in their history and give their new home in Cobb County just as many or even more great historical moments. Hopefully they do not become so obsessed over the future that the team forgets about the rich history. Even worse than that would be if the ignored the present and continued to lose a substantial number of games and miss the playoffs year after year.

Gamble of a Lifetime

Today it was announced that MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred would be upholding the decision to ban former player and manager Pete Rose. The all-time hit king for the MLB should never be allowed back into the league. During his playing career it was found that he had gambled on games, the MLB could never prove it was on his own team. After his long playing career, the final three seasons as manager of the Cincinnati Reds, he continued to manage the Reds. This all ended in 1989 when the MLB Commissioner at the time, Bart Giamatti, announced a place on the MLB ineligible list. Since that day he has worked to be reinstated but as of today, the 14th of December 2015, he has not shown current commissioner Rob Manfred that he has done enough to change his ways.

His playing career was impressive enough that he should be recognized for it. At some point he should be elected into the Hall of Fame. This could be possible even if he does not ever be reinstated due to the fact that the MLB and HOF are not controlled by the same group. That being said the HOF board did vote to ban the admittance of all players on the permanately ineligible list in 1991. This group only has one member who is alive, Pete Rose, but if anyone has the numbers to make it, he can.

Crowning of a Young Star

On Thursday the MLB continued its slow release of award winners. Today was the announcement that many in the Washington Nationals organization were hoping for. This was because their star right fielder Bryce Harper was in line for the Most Valuable Player award for the National League (NL). Harper ended up rewriting the history books by becoming the youngest player in MLB history to win the MVP award by unanimous decision. On top of that he became the fourth youngest player to ever win the award. The only three people to win the award at a younger age than Harper’s 22 years and 353 days are Stan Musial in 1943, 22 years and 316 days, Johnny Bench in 1970, 22 years and 298 days, and Vida Blue in 1971, 22 years and 64 days. That is great company for such a young player to be in, especially when he is already starting to be looked at as one of the faces of the league.

In his first four years with the Nationals, Harper has been no stranger to personal success. His rookie year in 2012 included an appearance in the All-Star game, a 30th place finish in the MVP voting, and winning the Rookie of the Year. The next year he missed parts of due to injury and was only an All-Star in his second year. Harper’s third year featured more injuries and ended with no awards to his name for the first time in his career. This year Harper recovered the form he showed during his rookie year and then some. He had career highs in games played (153), runs (118), hits (172), doubles (38), homeruns (42), RBIs (99), walks (124), batting average (.330), on base percentage (.460), slugging percentage (.649). Most of these categories Harper was in the top 5 of for the NL.

As Harper moves into his fifth season next year the eyes of the entire league will be on him even more than they have ever been. Harper is going to have to prove that, despite his young age, he is mature enough not to cause trouble off the field. While he is doing that hopefully he does not lose his goofball nature that makes him an exciting player to watch.