Monday, November 24, 2014

I know thanksgiving is in a couple of days and I wanted to personally write a blog to all the people who have been reading my blogs over the last couple years. I have been writing every week since January of 2013 and for those of you who have stayed loyal and, or, are friends of mine just taking a quick gander at what I write on a weekly basis, I just wanted to say thank you because with another year coming to an end here shortly, I just pray for everyone and their families for this upcoming holiday weekend. Please have a safe one.

As to what is to come in the sports landscape, I'm heavily disappointed in the high importance of football games for he NFL this upcoming Thursday. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited, but at the same time I like having some quality time with family that I hadn't seen in a while and with important games this Thursday I just hope that they are all blowouts because honestly, unless you are a complete loner, you'll more than likely have grandma chewing at your ear about the latest fling, or the most recent film she saw and if you decide to ignore her to watch these magnificent matchups on Thursday afternoon, then consider yourself a complete douche bag for ignoring your family.

Now if you can find a way to stay awake after gorging yourself with some amazing feast, you (one) didn't eat enough and (two) will get to watch some awesome football that is bound to be memorable. Hopefully you'll have some really cool family members to watch with, but if not either way, I hope you have a wonderful week reuniting with your family and shopping on those amazing deals that should be starting sometime Tuesday afternoon (especially with how Black Friday has turned into a weekly thing these days).

Have a wonderful thanksgiving!


See you next week!

Location:Thanksgiving Football

Monday, November 17, 2014

SEC West: Too Much Love

We have this new thing called the college football playoff and there is a hotly contested debate of how teams should be getting in and for reasons that are all money grubbing and "eye test" reasons that quite frankly just don't make sense in the scheme of what the new playoff system is trying to accomplish.

Why am I saying that the SEC West is getting too much love? I mean think about it. The very first college football playoff ranking on week 10 had 3 SEC West teams in it and two of them were from Mississippi. That's not to rip on Mississippi, but the purpose of the College Football playoff is to have the best 4 teams in college football play each other in the ultimate college football final four predicament. This week, it looks like even though Alabama beat the last undefeated team (Mississippi State) in the SEC West, many will still debate that Mississippi state should stay in the top 4. My question is why, and what is your evidence as to why they should?

Can we be clear about something. The SEC West is not all filled with NFL Players waiting to go pro, they are solid teams that are just as vulnerable each and every week as much as another one loss team in the power conferences in the FBS. This talk of how great the SEC West is shouldn't deter a team in the upcoming weeks of winning a power conference championship such as the PAC 12, BIG 12, and ACC Championship. The Big 10 with the way they have been presenting themselves recently might even have a minor say in the conversation as well. But people still keep getting antsy about a one loss SEC west team, who doesn't win a conference championship, should overtake another conference championship squad and why is that? Plain and simply, History.

Well let me tell you something, history means nothing when it comes to last season outside of FSU winning the National title this past January. The landscape of college football changes every single year and this year is no different. How can we make all these preseason predictions and assume that teams coming out of the SEC West should just duke it out in January for a national title bout when everything will figure itself out anyways? I understand the SEC has owned the bowl landscape of college football the past decade and that they have talent like no other conference. But at the same time, they shouldn't be running train all the way to January with 2 or even 3 teams where you could have other conferences bring in the same type of talent to the new Final Four of college football.

The more people keep buying into this hype of the SEC being the best conference in football, the more and more college football will alienate itself from the diversity and the parity conversation of separate conferences joining forces to make the almighty power conferences conversation begin.

I'm not a dummy, I understand the SEC West is stacked and filled with talent, but we need to calm down and look at the two teams running the BIG 12 right now (Baylor & TCU) the Heisman favorite in the PAC 12 (Marcus Mariota from Oregon), and the undefeated, resilient, defending National Champions in Florida State representing the ACC. I even forgot to mention the outside opportunity for Ohio State to represent the BIG 10, even though I think their chance this year are bleak, they too have an opportunity to open some eyes in the future. So you're telling me that there are 3 SEC teams that are better than these 4-5 teams I just mentioned. I can only think of 1 SEC team that is in the mix for a playoff birth right now, and that team has been Rollin Tide all decade to this point; Alabama.

Calm down about the SEC West talk and how they should just own the college football playoff. They are great, but the media is over hyping everything they are, especially at this point in the season. Let the teams who are fighting for these 4 spots do what's supposed to be done; proving it on the field.

See you next week!

Monday, November 10, 2014

AFC North Greatness

Yes, it is nearing the middle of November and I am writing about the greatness of the AFC North? A division that many would deem puny and unworthy the last couple of seasons, but this is 2014 and clearly a lot changes in a year.

The Baltimore Ravens (as of the end of week 10) are in last place in the AFC North. You are probably reading this in the year 2016 and saying who cares. They are 6-4. Think about that. Every team in the AFC North is at least 2 games above .500 while you have a team in the NFC South at 4-5, New Orleans Saints, who will be hand gifted a postseason birth sometime in the next 7 weeks.

To make things even more insane, along with ensuring an end of the world scenario playing out in front of us, the Cleveland Browns are leading the division and Johnny Football has had nothing to do with it. They are 6-3 and could very well have their first winning season this decade and it would be in the toughest division Race since the 2007 AFC South race.

As much as we could write about this division, I think the hardest thing to bring up is how come one of them won't make the postseason when there will be an NFC South team that will find a way into the Postseason? How about this, just for the 2015 playoffs, we have the last place AFC North team play in place of the winner of the NFC South winner this season, because nobody wants it in that division.

Similar to how the NFC West was won in 2010 when the Seahawks won the division at 7-9, nobody seems to want it in the NFC South as no teams are at .500. How fascinating will this already 2014 NFL Season become if every team in the AFC North finishes with 10+ wins in the AFC North and nobody finishes with 8 wins in the NFC South. The NFL will have some explaining... Not that they already do *cough* Roger Goodell *cough*.

See you next week!

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Brow is Ballin'!

So earlier this weekend I looked at myself in the mirror and saw that I had a minor unibrow forming. I looked at it while simultaneously looking at the stats Anthony Davis had put up the night before, I found myself becoming proud of my lack of up keeping in the brow region of my face. I then recognized that I'm not an NBA superstar in the making, and shaved it off rather quickly before anybody could comment throughout the day.

Superstar in the making? Yeah right, he's one right now. Anthony Davis is a Center for the New Orleans Pelicans and with the way he played this summer, it definitely carried over into this first full week of the season and it's not just bright, it's glaring for attention that is needed throughout the media today.

He is in his early 20's and is already in the elite category when it comes to the legends playing the game right now and he'll be the face of he NBA in a couple of years... Maybe even by the end of this season. This guy is so good that I needed to write about him and give him the props he deserves because I'm picking him to win the MVP in the NBA this season.

Only a week into the season, this guy is playing 40 minutes a game, putting up 29 points a game, grabbing 16 rebounds on average, averaging 6 blocks, and shooting 75% from the free throw line. You talk about a force in the paint we haven't seen since the likes of Shaq, you're looking at the closest thing since. I'm not trying to discount Tim Duncan, or any other good big man in the league right now, but this Anthony Davis guy is only 21 years old and is just getting started.

If this guy can gather the talent around him (which he seems to be doing slowly in New Orleans) and find a way to make more and more appearances in the postseason down the road, the title chances will be there for the taking. He deserves more praise than what the media is throwing his way and, in a sense, you could say he's been Tim Duncan like with how quietly he is putting up his numbers away from the major media market games.

But, don't get it twisted, when this guy is on, he makes the gym absolutely buzz. He's been the biggest force in the NBA in this early 2014-15 season and we got a loooooong way to go.

I'm excited to be writing weekly once again, and be prepared for some major topic blogs coming up weekly on Monday nights from here to come!

See you next week!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Field of Dreams; 25th anniversary, Greatest Game

The movie came out 25 years ago. I thought I would make the ultimate dream game scenario where I would hand pick my own team and have them play against another team that was equally if not better.

Considering it's October and the baseball season is still fresh on our minds, I figured I would make this dream game scenario would play itself out until it got to a Game 7 which in this case would occur on a Sunday because in my dream scenario each game would be played every day during that week. So pretend it's Sunday, on a chilly 55 degree day, the brisk wind hitting your face as the legends of the game take the field in a final Game 7 of what had already been a miraculous previous 6 games.

I'll start off by introducing My Team.

The stating line up 1 through 9:

RF-Ichiro Suzuki (Quite possibly the greatest leadoff hitter ever. A selfish player in his own right, but when you are the face of Japan for over a generation and you have nearly 4,000 hits in your career both in the MLB and Japan? You can do what ever you want. Oh and he also holds the record for most hits in a season, the most consecutive 200+ hit seasons, and he won countless Gold Gloves.)

SS-Derek Jeter (The best captain in baseball history. He led the Yankees to 5 championships and won 4 in 5 years after a long drought by the greatest franchise in sports. He also kept a clean resume throughout his time in New York which is hard by itself and he was a true testament to the game. He's also a top 3 short stop of all time in my book.)

LF-Ted Williams (He's the greatest contact hitter ever in my book. Oh and the guy served in WWII and if it weren't for his service, which we all root for anyways, he would have probably broken nearly every hits record in Major League Baseball history. A gentlemen in all categories and beast at the plate.)

1B-Jimmie Foxx (Imagine Albert Pujols in his prime but better and for a longer time, Jimmie Foxx epitomizes dominance at the plate for a first basemen. The guy could also play catcher and played it well, but his strong suit was at first base. Basically, if it wasn't for Babe Ruth, this guy would have stolen all the glory for his ability to mash a baseball and his consistency is ridiculous. It also helps when your nickname is "The Beast.")

CF-Willie Mays (Arguably the greatest player ever. Period. If you don't have Willie Mays in your top 3 list of all time players, then you are simply a moron plain and simple. He defined the term greatness when it came to the elegance, happiness, and passion that was brought to the game, the guy was simply fantastic.)

DH-Edgar Martinez (The greatest DH of all time and should be in the hall of fame some day. The guy is in the top 20 all time in on base percentage and did it as a permanent pinch hitter. He also was a clutch hitter, one of the most clutch hitters in the history of the game. He was and always will be my favorite player. Basically, if Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer of all time, said he was the hardest hitter he ever faced, put his face in Cooperstown.)

2B-Rogers Hornsby (Greatest hitting second basemen ever and it's not even close. For those of you who watch Robinson Cano and think he is the end all be all, imagine Robinson Cano and multiply that by 3. This guy was a freak at the plate and clearly is the best second basemen the game has ever seen.)

C-Ivan Rodriguez (Several Gold Gloves & All appearances and my Idol as a young catcher. "Pudge" as his nickname would be called, was one of those catchers that you looked at and were like, wow he made that look easy, and could do it all. The guy could hit, run a pitching staff, and was clutch when it mattered most. I wouldn't have any other guy run my pitching staff other than this guy.)

3B-Brooks Robinson (The greatest defensive 3rd basemen of all time, he is the staple of what a great defensive 3rd basemen wants to become what it comes to the hot corner. He couldn't hit that well, but his glove is what put him in the hall of fame.)

...and the Starting pitcher:

-Pedro Martinez for this Game 7 (Pedro has an opponents batting average just above .200 in his career which for the era he pitched in is beyond the term bonkers. The guy pitched in the heat of the Steroid Era and would have won more awards if some certain players weren't playing in this era. He also was always on the end of big games that the Red Sox needed back in the early 2000's and I would have no worries if he were pitching in a Game 7 for me)

The other starting pitchers for my team include:

-Nolan Ryan (Most K's ever, threw 100 mph till he was 40 years old, he threw 7 no-hitters and was very durable. This guy was also ridiculously competitive and really defined the term "Texas Heat" when the ball left his hand.)

-Sandy Koufax (Greatest left handed pitcher in the history of the game. His Slider was projected by hitters of his era as the most unhittable pitch they had ever seen and that the trajectory of the pitch was unpredictable the pick up. I've read in books that his slider would come in at 11 but would drop at 4. That's not supposed to happen. Pitches that come in at 11 always as supposed to come in at 5. He was straight nasty, and there was nothing you could do about it.)

-Greg Maddux (The most consistent pitcher of his era. It seemed to be a yearly thing when Greg Maddux would win 15+ games a year, and considering the speed that he threw, his location was unconscious. I've always said, that if you wanted to put paint on a baseball, Greg Maddux would be the Picasso of pitchers.)

-Randy Johnson (The nastiest left handed pitcher the game will ever see, and quite possibly the tallest. When Randy reared back and threw his 102 mph fastball with the sidewinding action that he delivered it, many people would wet their pants. Just ask John Kruk.)

My Bullpen:

-Babe Ruth (Yes, a perfect guy because he can pinch hit and relief pitch. He's also well known by many non baseball enthusiasts and is well known as one of the greatest players to ever play. But, many people forget he pitched before he started hitting homeruns, he could have gone to the hall of fame pitching too.)

-Dennis Eckersley (Can pitch in long relief and save a ball game, a guy who stuck out like a soar thumb and clearly resembled the look of California beach walker)

-Billy Wagner (The greatest left handed closer ever, he has the most saves as a left handed relief pitcher.)

-Trevor Hoffman (The second greatest closer of all time. Possibly the greatest change up anyone has ever seen.)

-Mariano Rivera (The Greatest Closer of all time. A humanitarian and a humble spirit. Also a man of the greatest Cutter the game has ever seen.)

Here's my bench as well which involves 5 players:

LF-Ricky Henderson (Why not have the all-time steals leader come off the bench in a pinch running situation? He was the best at it.)

SS-Honus Wagner (He was the hero back in the dead ball era and could play both sides of the infield if needed)

1B-Albert Pujols (Can play 3B, LF, and 1B obviously. The guy is just a notch below Jimmie Foxx, but a perfect guy if you need somebody off the bench to provide a hit and play good defense. His nickname is "The Machine" for he could hit in the gap as though he were a robot.)

C-Mike Piazza (Not a guy I would prefer on defense, but he is the greatest hitting catcher the game has ever seen.)

3B-Chipper Jones (A switch hitting guy who can also play some LF if needed, one of the greatest 3B's in the history of the game and the greatest switch hitter in the history of baseball)

So that is my team and they will face off against the other team that I have also assembled. As you can tell, all of my players (except for maybe the Catchers) are all "clean" players from Performance Enhancing Drugs. Ivan and Mike may have taken steroids back in the day but outside of those two, everybody else is very clean making this a pretty rooting friendly ball club and a scary team at that. So... you can picture who I would have on the other side then if you know the history of the game and the villains who will be on the other side. Well here is that other squad and their starting lineup. Let me remind you, this team has to have some way of functioning and they have to have some form of peace, so there are some really good guys on this team, they aren't all hard to root for.

Starting lineup for the Other Team 1 through 9:

CF-Ty Cobb (The greatest player of his era but also the most hated. This guy was an ugly bastard and I'm putting that nicely. He was also a menace if you were on the other team because he made your life a living hell for his talent and wit on the baseball field, but man he was a purebred asshole.)

RF-Tony Gwynn (The exact opposite of Ty Cobb, in fact, this was possibly the nicest human being to ever play the game. A kind soul, a man who had unbelievable character and could brighten even the darkest souls spirit. Also, he immolated Ted Williams swing, and he did it well)

1B-Lou Gehrig (Again, another kind hearted soul and a great human being. Also the original Iron Man and he was also one of the most productive players when came to hitting a baseball)

LF-Barry Bonds (The boo birds are already flying. This guy was the face of the Steroids Era as he cheated his way into breaking the all time homerun record and is the only member of the 700 Homerun-500 Stolen base category... but he also used steroids so go figure.. BOOO!!)

3B-Alex Rodriguez (You might as well boo for two straight batters. This player also has used steroids, lied about his use of performance enhancing drugs, and to many is the biggest pansy the sport has ever seen. It doesn't mean that he isn't also one of the most lethal players to ever play the game and in his prime you couldn't stop him)

DH-David Ortiz (Another guy to root for. A family man, a guy who has gone about his business the right way and also up their with Edgar Martinez as possibly the next best DH ever to play the game, he's also got a knack for clutch hits too)

SS-Cal Ripken Jr. (The Iron Man, and also a humble human being for what he provided on and off the field. The guy was not disliked at all, and even though he's most well known for his consecutive games played streak, the guy also had the most power of any short stop in the history of baseball)

C-Johnny Bench (People will debate forever that this is the greatest Catcher in the history of the sport and I would not debate them because they would have a valid argument. This guy was the anchor of the Big Red Machine back in the 70's and at the time the greatest catcher in baseball history. He could anchor down a defense like nobody in his era along with provide the power at the plate that had never been seen in at the catching position during his time)

2B-Craig Biggio (How could you hate Biggio? The guy was loveable and had a great kid persona about him. He also has the all time record in getting hit by the pitcher, and in many statistical categories leads many second basemen, so he's got to play in this game, even if it means batting 9th)

So as you can see the starting lineup is rather bipolar when it comes to the personalities and rooting interest, but you gotta have some nice guys with the scrubby guys. The starting pitcher for Game 7 is also a guy who's easy to boo as well.

Starting pitcher:

-Roger Clemons (A guy who took Performance Enhancing Drugs and still to this day denies ever taking them. He has 7 Cy Young awards and could throw gas with the best of them. He's clearly one of the greatest pitchers of all time, but won't get the recognition due to his use of Steroids.)

What a better matchup then to have Roger Clemons and Pedro Martinez face each other once again. It takes me back to my childhood of watching the two guys dueling it out in the greatest rivalry of the sport (New York Yankees vs Boston Red Sox). Everybody who wasn't a Yankees fan hated Clemons, everybody who wasn't a Red Sox fan hated Pedro. That I would pay to see again.

Here are the other Starters on the Other Team:

-Cy Young (How could you not have the guy with the most wins in MLB History and the guy who the best pitcher of the year award is named after? This guy won 511 games, a record that will never be broken, and pitched in the most games ever. He was the best pitcher of the dead ball era and it's not even a debate)

-Walter Johnson (If there was one guy you could pull from the dead ball era to put into the modern era, this would be the guy. Players reported that Walter Johnson's fastball was so fast they claimed they couldn't see it. He has the second most wins in MLB history and the pitches he threw were unlike anybody had ever seen. I still don't think he could pitch in todays era, but man it would have been nice to see.

-Warren Spahn (Now I say that Sandy Koufax is the greatest left hander in history and it's not even close, but people would argue with this guy right here. He has the most wins by any left hander in Major League Baseball history and he played in an era that is respected by many to have potentially carried over to today. So this guy could compete with the best of them and maybe, just maybe, he could have performed equally if not closely to as well as the players of today)

-Christy Mathewson (You want to talk about character, this man had the class that very few men could attain. Another dead ball pitcher but a guy who could help balance out the personalities of the starting rotation. He also was claimed to have thrown really hard but again, the era he played in may not have transferred to today but if it did, good lord he'd be unstoppable)

Many of these starting pitchers may not have been able to get past the team that I made only because of the era that they pitched in. I think they could hang and provide for an interesting series, but on the whole, they probably would get destroyed. That doesn't mean they wouldn't know how to win. You can't just win 400+ games as many of these men have and not be smart. These guys were all smart, and they could muster something together to keep themselves going in todays era.

Even though most of the guys in this starting rotation wouldn't need a bullpen, I have one just incase they needed the extra the relief.

Bullpen of the Other Team:

-John Smoltz (This guy could start and could also close. He has 100+ saves and 100+ wins in his career, he could definitely play a good role in Long Relief)

-Hoyt Wilhelm (This guy pitched in a relief and started every once in a while too. He also was an avid knuckleball thrower and was known to be one of the best)

-Addie Joss (Another typically great ballooned dead ball era pitcher who's stats couldn't be left off a team, guy was known as "The Human Hairpin" and was known for hiding the ball very deceptively before he delivered to the plate. With his career Earned Run Average at the second lowest all time and a Career WHIP at the lowest all time in Major League Baseball history, how could you not bring him out of the bullpen in a setup situation?)

-Arthur Rhodes (One of the best left handed set up men the game has probably seen on a consistent basis. In an era where bullpen guys come and go, Arthur Rhodes kept going. The guy currently holds the record for the most holds (which is a new stat conducted for keeping the lead heading into the 9th allowing the closer to get the save) I anticipate this record to shift places eventually, but for now Arthur holds the holds mark)

-Lee Smith (This guy was known by many as the "best one inning pitcher the game ever saw." This was prior to the emergence of one Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman, but Lee Smith was the other guy in this instance and racked up 478 saves throughout his long term career. He's no slouch and bringing him out of the bullpen in a save situation would be a sight to see!)

Now let's get to the bench where the Other Team has another 5 guys to discuss:

UTIL-Pete Rose (Charlie Hustle as he's known for, is a guy who played hard on every play. He has the most hits in Major League Baseball history, but isn't in the hall of fame because he bet on baseball. He pretty much could play anywhere out on the field and if you put him there he would do as good a job as anybody could ask, oh and his bat was pretty lethal too. The definition of a hustle player and the perfect guy off the bench.)

CF-Ken Griffey Jr. (Yes, this guy is coming off the bench. You talk about one of the best players of his era, he could easily have taken Ty Cobb's spot, but I think Ty Cobb would have killed him if he did. Also, considering the statistical advantage Ty Cobb has, I had to put him in over Griffey. Griffey in his prime was like watching Michael Jordan play baseball [except better]. If anybody in the outfield got hurt, Griffey would step in and do just as good, if not a better job. The only reason he isn't starting is because of his risk of injury and because his batting average just isn't up there with the other three outfielders, outside of that, he'd be out there. If this guy didn't get hurt during his career, we would be talking about the greatest player to ever play this game)

LF-Lou Brock (He's the second leading base stealer of all time. Another perfect guy to bring off the bench to steal. With over 900 steals in his career, I'd say it's a pretty good bet he'd do a good job)

OF-Billy Hamilton (No, not the current Billy Hamilton who's in the MLB right now. I'm talking about "Sliding Billy." Another dead ball era great who played before the World Series era and was a 19th century great. Nobody really remembers Billy except for the historians of the game. He was a guy very proud of his ability to steal bases and if he was on base, he's another guy with 900+ stolen bases and if the game got late and this team needed another guy who could fly, lookout for Billy!)

C-Yogi Berra (Why not have a character in Yogi sitting on the bench hanging out and having a good old time? He's definitely not one of the greatest catchers when you breakdown stats and categories of the game at his position but his championships and All-Star game appearances are good enough for consideration. 18 All-Star game appearances, 13 Championships, and on top of that the guy was an alright manager? How could you not have him riding the bench?! Oh and did I forget to mention he's a 3 time American League MVP? Yeah, he's an easy choice.)

---------------------------------------------------------------

So that's the teams, and remember, we are in a Game 7 scenario and I'll recap it all for you up until this Game 7 occurrence.

My Team has home field advantage (not that the field was leaving Iowa, but just to give the last at bats in a series situation). We played a 2-3-2 format (Home-Away-Home) even though we never left the same field. So here are the recaps of each game leading up to Game 7.

Game 1 recap:

Pedro Martinez pitched first vs Cy Young and Cy Young pulled magic out of his hat as he held my team in check for a solid 5 innings. The Other Team scored first in the top of first inning as Pedro gave up a 2 run bomb into the corn field by Barry Bonds, but after the 1st inning Pedro settled down and went the distance pitching 8 magnificent innings. Cy Young had a shutout until he ran into some trouble in the 6th inning giving up a leadoff homerun to Willie Mays, which cut the score to 2-1. Cy Young was pulled for Hoyt Wilhelm. Hoyt's knuckleball kept my team off balance, as they couldn't adjust to the knuckleball pitcher. Lee Smith came into the game in the 9th inning to try to close the door but it was definitely difficult. He got the first two outs in the inning, until he walked Derek Jeter (And then Ricky Henderson came in to pinch run). Ricky stole 2nd on the first pitch, then on the next pitch he stole 3rd, but Lee Smith had Ted Williams at 0-2. Ted hit a ball into the leftfield gap that looked like it would be the game tying double, but Ken Griffey Jr. (a defensive replacement) made a ridiculous catch to end the game. Other Team wins Game 1: 2-1, they lead 1-0 in the series.

Game 2 recap:

I had Nolan Ryan out there for Game 2 and they had Walter Johnson. You talk about a hard throwing matchup. Both these guys skated through the first 3 innings untouched and both had 7 K's heading into the 4th inning. That's when Ty Cobb got angry and mustered up a run in a fashion only Ty Cobb could do. He laid a bunt down the third base line where nobody had a chance to throw him out. He then stole 2nd on the second pitch to Tony Gwynn. The next pitch, Gwynn hit the ball on a hit & run to left field (shocking right?) and Ty Cobb scored easily to make it 1-0 Other Team. Lou Gehrig then hit into a double play, and Nolan Ryan struck out Barry Bonds on 3 straight heaters. Bottom of the 4th, that's when my team opened the flood gates. Ichiro got a single up the middle, Jeter got a base hit the other way, Ted Williams knocked in Ichiro to tie the game at 1-1, then Jimmie Foxx hit a 3 run homerun to make it 4-1 my team. Willie Mays reached base on a double in the gap, then Edgar worked the count and got an RBI base hit to make it 5-1 my team. That was when Walter Johnson got pulled, and in came John Smoltz who retired the rest of the batters in the 4th. Nolan Ryan went all the way until the 8th inning when he ran into some trouble as Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez both went back-to-back home runs off Nolan Ryan to make it 5-3 my team. The next batter, David Ortiz, was then drilled in the back by Nolan Ryan because of those two homeruns. It paid off though because Cal Ripkin hit into an inning ending double play to send the game to the bottom of the 8th. My team didn't respond with any runs, but that's ok because Rivera was warming up in the Bullpen. Mariano retired the 9th inning in order and my team won 5-3 to tie the series up at 1-1.

Game 3 recap:

This game my team was on the road and would be for the following two games until Game 6. I had Sandy Koufax out on the hill while the Other Team had Warren Spahn. The great debate of the greatest left handed pitcher would come forth in this one! Koufax retired the first 17 batters he faced and Warren Spahn retired the first 15 he faced. Both these teams clearly had a difficult time facing the lefties. But my team got on the board first as Rodgers Hornsby broke the seal with a leadoff double into the gap. Ivan Rodriguez sacrificed him over the 3rd base, Brooks Robinson popped out, and up came Ichiro. Ichiro did what he always does and lined a base hit up the middle to give my team a 1-0 lead heading into the bottom of the 6th and with the way Koufax was pitching, that was a scary thought. Koufax gave up his first hit to Craig Biggio of all people, then struck out Cobb looking on a nasty hook. Koufax retired the next 6 batters (2 innings) and headed into the bottom of the 9th where Mariano Rivera would pitch to save the game. Rivera got the first two hitters out but again, here comes Ty Cobb. Cobb figures he can't hit off Rivera so he lays a perfect running bunt down and gets to first easily. Billy Hamilton pinch runs for Cobb and he is absolutely livid that he's pulled from the game. So mad that he threatens to kill his own base coach. Fortunately, Tony Gwynn and Yogi Berra come out to restrain Cobb and get him out of the ballgame. You get these kinds of tirades with Cobb from time to time, but I don't blame him for getting upset because he want's to stay in and help the team win. Tony Gwynn finds a way to get a 2 strike base hit off Rivera and Billy Hamilton was running on the pitch. He decides to take the turn at 3rd and head for home, but Ichiro throws out Billy Hamilton at the plate and my team wins 1-0 and leads the series heading into game 4, 2-1.

Game 4 recap:

Greg Maddux was pitching for my team and Christy Mathewson was pitching for the Other Team. This game got ugly quickly. In the first inning, My team scored 8 runs and batted around twice and Matthewson was pulled after the first bat around with Cy Young. Cy then gave up another 4 runs as we batted around again. Cy was then pulled and in came Addie Joss and he shut the door on the rest of the inning. We were up 8-0 with Greg Maddux on the mound. Too easy. Well, that's what I thought. They put together a 5 run inning and cut the score to 8-5. Greg Maddux stayed in the ballgame but his pitch count was already in the 40's. The games rolled along to the 5th inning and this was when Greg Maddux's night hit the wall. He gave up a 3 run bomb to Barry Bonds and the score became tied at 8-8 in the bottom of the 5th inning. Maddux was pulled for Babe Ruth, who was then placed in the DH position as well (so he could hit and pitch). Ruth shut down the rest of the 5th, and he came up two innings later in the top of the 7th and broke the tie with a 2-run homerun to make it 10-8 my team. In the bottom of the 7th, Ruth gave up a pinch-hit homerun to Ken Griffey Jr. who again took over for Cobb, this time there was no altercation. The score was now 10-9 and Ruth was then put into right field, pulling Ichiro from the game, and put Bobby Wagner in to face the left handed portion of the lineup for the Other Team. He shut them down and stayed in for the 8th and this time handed the ball off to Trevor Hoffman in the 9th. I was confused too, but considering they almost scored on Rivera last game, might as well change it up. Bad decision from the get go. Barry Bonds hits a game tying homerun to make it 10-10 and the game would head to extra innings. Knowing that Other team needed this game to keep pace, they put in Roger Clemons (who was scheduled to pitch Game 5) so that he could keep this game going as long as he could. My team put in Pedro Martinez to do the same. Knowing that Pedro was working on 3 days rest, I figured he would do ok. Both teams were held scoreless for the next 8 innings. Pedro and Clemons dueled like it was the early 2000's again and it was a classic. Until the bottom of the 19th, where the Other Team had Alex Rodriguez up at the plate. A-Rod hit the game winning HR to win it for the other team 11-10 in 19 innings. Talk about a game. This one lasted about 8 hours but every minute of it was amazing. The Series was now tied up at 2-2 heading into a big time Game 5.

Game 5 recap:

Well knowing that Roger Clemons couldn't go, Cy Young could go, but he had pitched the previous day and struggled mightily, the Other Team only had One Choice, they had to go with Warren Spahn once again. My team turned to Randy Johnson, and boy was he ready to burn. Randy pitched 8 magnificent innings and Warren Spahn barely got out of the 4th inning. Spahn came back out for the 5th inning and instantly it felt like he had given up 3 runs. He hit's Jimmie Foxx in the leg on the first pitch, Willie Mays get's a rare infield base hit, then on the first pitch Edgar Martinez see's he hits it to dead center field over everything. It's 3-0 my team just like that. The Other Team puts in Hoyt Wilhelm and he holds off my team until the 9th inning where he is pulled for Arthur Rhodes. Rhodes pitched in the 9th and gave up another run as Derek Jeter hit an opposite field homerun to make it 4-0 my team to really put the game out of reach as Mariano Rivera shut the door in the 9th (as we learned to never put Trevor Hoffman in again) and we took win 4-0 to take the series lead 3-2 with home field advantage the final two games.

Game 6 recap:

Well this game Nolan Ryan wanted to start because he wanted to beat them sunsabitches by himself and nobody was going to stop him. The Other Team threw Cy Young out there to see what they could do and if they were to run into trouble, they would use everybody they could to try and get a win. Well this was one of the most unexpected games you could think of. Nolan Ryan gave up 6 runs in the first 5 innings and was pulled once his 5th inning of work was complete. He was pissed off, but on the other side, Cy Young was making the award named after him worthy of it's name. He had retired 15 of his first 19 batters faced and was on a complete role. It also helped that he had a 6 run lead heading into the 6th inning. But that's where he ran into some trouble. Cy Young gave up a 3 run homerun to Jimmie Foxx and the score was cut to 6-3 heading into the 7th. Dennis Eckersley came on for Nolan Ryan in the 6th and he performed masterfully until he was pulled for Babe Ruth in the 8th. Babe Ruth pinch hit for Edgar in the bottom of the 8th inning so that he could stay in the game and pitch extra innings if they needed him to go. His bat was very worth too as it gave my team a chance to do more serious damage. In the 8th, Babe Ruth came up big. He hit a game tying 3 run homerun to make it 6-6 heading into the top of the 9th. Babe Ruth stayed in to pitch, problem was he gave up the lead. David Ortiz does it again. He hit's a solo shot down the right field line and gives the Other Team the lead 7-6 and Lee Smith came into the ball game to close the door in the bottom of the 9th, tying the series 3-3, heading into what we will now breakdown as Game 7 of this amazing series of the Field of Dreams Greatest Game!

Game 7:

To remind you, Pedro Martinez was starting for my team, Roger Clemons was starting for the other team. Considering how well both pitched in that extra inning affair earlier in the series, they needed to face one another again. It was only fitting.

So here we go.

Top of the 1st inning:

Pedro struck out the side in a statement like fashion striking out 3 of the greatest contact hitters to ever play the game in Ty Cobb, Tony Gwynn, and Lou Gehrig. You knew Pedro was locked in when he left the mound in the solemn fashion like he did walking stoically off the mound.

Bottom 1st:

Clemons came out firing and shut down the first two batters in Ichiro and Jeter, but then came up batter Ted Williams. Ted worked the count to 2-2, in a 6 pitch at-bat and ripped a two out single up the middle. Then stepped in Jimmie Foxx who also worked the count to 3-2 and hit a line drive into the gap for a double, Ted came around 3rd but was gunned down by Barry Bonds in left field to keep the game scoreless heading into the next inning.

Top 2nd

Bonds led off the inning with a walk and promptly stole 2nd on the second pitch of the Alex Rodriguez at-bat. A-Rod then struck out on the third pitch to make it one out in the inning. I could hear the cheers of joy in my mind when A-Rod struck out... But then stepped in David Ortiz. The instant gratification of seeing such a giant and aura of his stature step into the batters box knowing he might break the game open for the first run, instead he popped out to Ichiro in right field to make it two outs in the inning. Then Cal Ripken came up and he grounded out to end the top half of inning.

Bottom 2nd:

Willie May dropped down a surprising bunt on Clemons and got to first easily as nobody had a chance to field it. Mays then stole 2nd base on the third pitch by Clemons in the Edgar Martinez atbat and Bench couldn't get the throw off in time. Edgar then hit the ball to the right side on the next pitch and Willie Mays moved over to 3rd base with 1 out. Rogers Hornsby stepped to the plate and all he needed to do was shoot a fly ball somewhere to give his team a 1-0 lead. He hit a fly ball, it just wasn't deep enough, as Willie couldn't tag up to score on the shallow fly. The next batter Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez then struck out to end the inning.

Top 3rd

Johnny Bench led off the inning with a weak grounder to 1st base where the first out was quickly made. Craig Biggio then struck out on three pitches and in stepped Ty Cobb. Cobb showed bunt, pulling in Brooks Robinson at third base, then pulled the bat back and slapped the ball right at Brooks where the ball hit him right in the face. Cobb ran down to the 1st and was laughing and muttering awful things about Brooks when he got to the base. Timeout was called, and Brooks had to leave the game in came Albert Pujols who hadn't played 3rd in a long time, but he could still provide a gold glove caliber glove. Tony Gwynn stepped in and hit a shot right to where Albert was shifted on the infield, and Albert made a fine throw across the diamond to end the top half of the 3rd inning still scoreless. Pedro was absolutely in the zone.

Bottom 3rd

Pujols led off the inning as he took Brooks Robinson's place in the batting order. He swung on the first pitch, and you could hear the different crack of the bat that comes off Albert's bat. It was a moon shot to leftcenterfield to make the score 1-0 my team. Ichiro then smacked a single into right field, but Derek Jeter hit into a double play to put two outs on the board very quickly. Then, miraculously, Ted Williams struck out on a Roger Clemons splitter ending the inning.

Top 4th

This is where Pedro ran into some trouble. Lou Gehrig led off the inning with a double into the left field gap, then Barry Bonds followed suit with the exact same thing tying the game at 1-1. Alex Rodriguez then came up and launched a homerun to left field making it 3-1 Other team with no outs in the inning. The pitching coach went out to the mound to have a quick talk with Pedro to calm him down, and it was what the doctor ordered. Pedro shut down the rest of the lineup.

Bottom 4th

Clemons started to find his grove in this inning. He shut down Foxx, Mays, and Martinez in a very orderly fashion to head to the 5th inning with a 3-1 lead and this was the Roger Clemons we all grew up watching as his stuff looked un-hitable.

Top 5th

Pedro then hit Craig Biggio with a pitch un-intentionally... but then drilled Cobb in the back intentionally. Cobb threatened to kill Pedro if he ever did it again, but Pedro didn't care to acknowledge him. Brooks Robinson gave a thumbs up as if to say thank you. That motion really inspired the rest of the team on the defensive side of the ball. Tony Gwynn came up with two runners on and no outs and pulled a ball down the right field line and Ichiro fielded it cleanly and threw out Cobb at third base. Biggio scored to make it 4-1, but this is where the benches cleared. When Pujols tagged Cobb, Pujols pushed Cobbs leg that was aimed at his face and Cobb called "Bush League" and jumped up like a mad man and started swinging. Everybody from both benches came running out on the field to get into the scrum and Pedro was the one who eventually tackled Cobb for good. Cobb left the game and Ken Griffey Jr. took his spot. Tony Gwynn was on 2nd base after the brawl and the score stayed at 4-1 with nobody out. Lou Gehrig popped up to center field, and Barry Bonds drew an intentional walk (not shocking), A-Rod then hit into an inning ending double play which kept the score at 4-1 Other team.

Bottom 5th

It seemed like the more runs the other team scored, the better Clemons got. This time, he struck out the side by shutting down Hornsby, Pudge, and Pujols making it 7 consecutive batters retired.

Top 6th

David Ortiz worked Pedro to a 3-2 count then hit a double into the right field gap. Billy Wagner started warming up in the bullpen, as Cal Ripken stepped up to the plate. Ripken moved Ortiz over the third base on a groundout to the right side, Bench struck out, and the inning was left up to Biggio. Biggio then hit a ball right back up the middle to make it 5-1 Other team and Pedro was pulled from the game as Wagner came in to face the heavy lefty lineup of the Other team. He struck out Ken Griffey Jr on three straight pitches to end the top of the inning.

Bottom 6th

Yogi Berra came in to catch for Johnny Bench as he was struggling at the plate all game and to allow for defensive replacement to occur. Lou Brock also came into the game in left field to cover defensively for Barry Bonds. Clemons was still rolling and retired the next two batters making it 9 in a row which was when he faced Ted Williams again. Ted Williams was facing another 2 strike count when he decided to lay down a random bunt that nobody was expecting and he reached base safely ending the batters retired streak by Clemons. That was when Jimmie Foxx stepped in an hit a first pitch fastball for a double into the right field gap and Ted Williams went flying around 3rd base to make it a 5-2 ballgame with two outs in the inning. Willie Mays then came up and hit 2-2 fastball into the cornfield to make it a 5-4 ballgame. Then came up Edgar Martinez. At this point is when Arthur Rhodes started warming up in the bullpen, but it didn't matter because Clemons shut down Edgar Martinez on a ground out for the third out in the inning.

Top 7th

Billy Wagner stayed in the game, but he gave up a hit to Tony Gwynn to lead off the inning. Luckily, Lou Gehrig hit into a double play to make it a quick two outs, then came up Lou Brock. A guy known for his speed he laid down a bunt and Pujols had no chance. Then Alex Rodriguez worked the count and Brock eventually got to third on a couple wild pitches by Billy Wagner. This was when you felt like everything was going wrong, then it was solidified by another homerun by A-Rod making it 7-4 Other team. Wagner stayed in to face Ortiz who he would strike out, but the damage had been done and Dennis Eckersley started warming up in the bullpen during the 7th inning stretch and the next half inning.

Bottom 7th

Rogers Hornsby was pinch hit for by Honus Wagner, he was the only guy I could think of who could seriously start a rally against a guy like Clemons and he delivered with a base hit up the middle to start off the 7th. Arthur Rhodes was still warming up but there was still no motion to the bullpen to go get him yet. Then Pudge hit another single and that was when Rhodes came into the ballgame. Albert Pujols on the first pitch hit's a game tying 3 run homerun to make it 7-7 in the bottom of the 7th. Wow, coincidence eh? There was nobody out. Then the next three batters (Ichiro, Jeter, Ted Williams) grounded out to end the inning.

Top 8th

Dennis Eckersley came into the game and he shut down all three hitters he faced in Cal Ripken, Yogi Berra, and Craig Biggio. It really doesn't get any simpler than that.

Bottom 8th

Arthur Rhodes did his job and shut down the power portion of the lineup for my team as Jimmie Foxx, Willie Mays and Edgar Martinez all went down in order as they all flew out to make it a 1-2-3 inning.

Top 9th

This is where Dennis ran into some trouble. He gave up a 2-1 fastball to Ken Griffey Jr. down the center of the plate and hit a blast as far as anybody could hit a pitch with his sweet stroke of his to make it 8-7 Other team. I wasn't even mad, his swing just made everything feel so much better even though it hurt so much. Tony Gwynn then got on base, Lou Gehrig got a base hit to put runners on 1st and 2nd with no body out. And then came Lou Brock once again. The guy hit a triple into the gap to score Gwynn and Gehrig to make it 10-7 Other team and I had to bring in Mariano Rivera to help close the inning out. Rivera shut down A-Rod, Ortiz, and Ripken as Lee Smith came in to pitch to close out Game 7 of this Greatest Game Field of Dreams 25th Anniversary edition.

Bottom 9th

10-7 game, save situation for Lee Smith, he just needs three outs and the game it over and the other team can walk off into the sunset as champions of the baseball universe. Well it was going to have to start with Honus Wagner once again. I also forgot to mention that Pete Rose also came in to play 1st base for Lou Gehrig for defensive purposes as well. Well Honus led off with a bunt single and started the rally going for my team. Mike Piazza then came in to pinch hit for Ivan Rodriguez, and he did it again. Piazza hit a two run blast to dead center field to make it a 10-9 ball game with no outs in the inning off of Lee Smith. Then came up Pujols, who struck out swinging. Ichiro bunted to get on base and Rickey Henderson pinch ran to give My team a chance to score the tying run. Derek Jeter was up next and he worked the count which allowed Rickey Henderson to steal both 2nd and 3rd. Derek worked the count to 3-2 and hit the ball up the middle to tie the score at 10-10. Next up was Ted Williams, and what better guy to come up to the plate. He didn't get a base hit, but he moved Derek into scoring position as he hit a weak grounder to 3rd base. 2 outs bottom of the 9th, Jeter on 2nd and Jimmie Foxx came up to the plate. On the first pitch Foxx hit the ball into the left field gap. Jeter sprinted around 3rd, scored easily, and won the game for my team 11-10.

It was an incredible moment as Jeter ran around 3rd with his fist up and Jimmie Foxx ran out of the batters box with both arms lifted in the a in triumph. Lee Smith instantly dropped his head and walked off the mound. This game, it reminds of all that was good and what could be again. 25 years later, the greatest movie in baseball lore, still is today, and hopefully you enjoyed my read for the greatest baseball game ever played. Have a wonderful winter, the next baseball season is right around the corner. It'll be here before you know it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Janitor Bumgarner Cleans Up A Dynasty

This wasn't the most memorable game in World Series history, but it will definitely be remembered for one thing that nobody will soon forget. The greatest pitching performance in the history of the game.

You don't need to know anything other than how you saw Madison Bumgarner pitch those final 5 innings. You would have had no clue that he pitched 2 days prior and would probably wonder why he didn't start. In fact, I think 20 years from now people will forget that he didn't start, and when we look at the box score, we'll be confused in seeing the actual starter in Tim Hudson only pitch 1.1 innings. But the Royals put it to the Giants after the Giants took an early 2-0 lead after the top of the 2nd inning.

The bottom of the 2nd inning was when the Royals put together an inning to match the Giants tying the score at 2-2 heading into the 3rd inning where their late relief pitcher in Jeremy Affeldt took the reigns on he mound and he held them until the 5th when Bumgarner moped up the Giants third championship pitching the final 5 innings and only giving up 2 hits in the process.

Typing that out felt legendary, I couldn't imagine pitching it as Bumgarner did. He's clearly the greatest World Series pitcher to ever play the game and the scary part is he is 25 and might only add to that resume the next 10-15 years.

This was a Game 7 that will be remembered based upon the cumulative performance of the entire October by one Madison Bumgarner. He defined this month and he will be the face of the 2014 MLB Postseason. There's nobody else that needs to grace the face of how this playoff played itself out. He wasn't just the MVP of the World Series, he's the MVP of all of October.

I had a blast writing blogs every night to break down this masterful major league postseason and I have a special treat for all of you to read tomorrow afternoon. It's been a pleasure and I'll get back to writing weekly blogs starting the first Monday of November.

See you next week!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Settling in for Game 7; Royals Blow the Doors off Game 6

This game, by itself, is not worth talking about. The Royals laid a 7 piece on the Giants and 5 of the, came off of Yusmeiro Petit. That was when you knew the game was over and Game 7 was in the cards for 2014.

The one sparkling light from this game came for Yordano Ventura. The guy only gave up 3 hits in 7 innings pitched on exactly 100 pitches. You talk about the outing of a lifetime for a 23 year old, unbelievable stuff.

Outside of that this was one of those games that nobody will remember in the lore of postseason history with the final score of 10-0, but the setting it opened up for Wednesday night is only what movies could project in an on sight visual for the Kansas City faithful. Nobody in their right minds had Kansas City playing Game 7 of the World Series come late winter of 2014, and tomorrow that crazy idea will become a reality.

Tomorrow night is where the epicenter of sports takes place and where the intensity ratchets up to a level that can cause fans to literally fall into a coma if their team falters one ounce away from expectation. And with both of these teams seasons the way they have unfolded, don't expect a cleanly played baseball game, expect a layout of many peaks and valleys, where as the expectation won't be the outcome no matter what we project or how we think.

Game 7's are the ultimate Wildcard. They could be the greatest classic we've ever seen, they could be a shoot out of the unforgiving, or they could be one giant blockbuster flop. Either way, this game tomorrow night requires no need for introduction, Game 7 of the World Series is the greatest day sports can provide, and those of you who think other wise, I don't know what planet you are from.

Just shutout the noise, shutout the crazy fast lifestyle we lay before us everyday, and enjoy the final day of baseball in 2014 on Wednesday.