Category Archives: MLB

Most Valuable Video: Utley Down Looking

Today’s video brings happiness deep down inside. Not only is it a nasty pitch sending a Philly strolling back to the dugout, but it is all about the velocity. 58 MPH? Sends you right back to the days in little league where one kid throwing high 40’s cheese was a death sentence. Ring em up.

Now, the gun shows I got 58 if I reach back and let one fly. This is to keeping the dream alive. 58 MPH curveball specialists are underused and undervalued.

LNS: A Running Diary of The 2013 SJFL Baseball Draft

 

Tonight’s Late Snack is…well, it’s more than a snack. Last night was the draft for the 2013 Sports Junkies Fantasy Baseball League, and between welcoming back baseball and Sweet 16 action, Friday was a great night for sports. Here for your enjoyment is a diary of the evening, our first here at The Orange Wedge:

 

8:16 PM

I’m filled with anxiety as a basket of crumpled paper is passed around, and each contestant carefully selects his destiny. We’re picking the draft order, to some degree shaping the season with our first brushstroke. Poetic as it is, “Getting a High Pick” isn’t one of my strong suits, and I’m saddled with the sixth overall selection. This is officially a 10-team league, but there are only 6 bodies present. One is drafting via Facebook, one is having his entire team picked for him, and two are running late. I pick for my late buddy, and draw him the fifth pick. Figures.

8:23 PM

We give a phone call to our absent buddy Max who’s essentially hitting the Autodraft button. So of course he “draws” first overall. Max is a solid bar buddy, in fact I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen him in sunlight. To top things off, his phone is off! We give him Mike Trout, and we are unceremoniously underway.

8:34 PM

With a possible suspension looming, Ryan Braun free falls out of the top five. He’s available at six, but I take Joey Votto. Nothing against Braun, in fact I had him last year, but I think Votto is primed for an MVP season. Braun falls all the way to the eighth pick, where our chum Adam is more than happy to scoop him up.

8:39 PM

Our first tardy arrival Dan walks in just in time for the first wraparound. Picking ninth, He takes Verlander and immediately nabs Strasburg two picks later. Instant contender.

8:53 PM

After taking Votto, Stanton, and now Adam Jones, I’ve gone 3 rounds with no pitching. And you know what? I’m fine with it. Elite pitching draws comparisons to elite quarterbacks, and after the first few are gone I promise myself I won’t reach. Also, pitchers don’t play every day! You’ll get 150 games out of an elite hitter. Out of a SP, maybe 40? I’m taking my offense.

9:08 PM

Our last arrival Rob shows up and is instantly fixated on the Board. He’s been phoning in his picks, but now he can really soak it all in before his fourth round choice.
“This is a critical selection,” he says quietly, his eyes scanning the board.
He scrolls his phone intensely as we feed him names to consider. The most popular is Johan Santana, who we learned earlier in the day would miss the entire season (again). Finally he announces he is reaching for Yoenis Cespedes, and only then does he find a couch and unpack his laptop.

9:30 PM

I’m in a good rhythm, personally willing Michigan to come up big and somehow landing all the players I’ve been eyeing.
On the walk back to my seat after grabbing Michael Bourn, I can hear cussing from another part of the room. Bourn was coveted. Victory.
Aside from the sheer excitement of building a team, isn’t taking a player right from under someone’s nose the best feeling in a draft? There’s nothing like the feeling of your heart dropping out of your chest because someone just took Yadier Molina. And when I can inflict that feeling upon someone else, I make sure to savor it.

9:46 PM

The same thing happens with Kris Medlen. I’m on a roll.

10:08 PM

Michigan has completed an unbelievable comeback, stalling a few picks but saving all relevant brackets left in the room. Awards right now:
Most Valuable: Trey Burke, who almost broke the DVR after the 25th replay
Least Valuable: Domino’s deliveryman Miguel, who is seriously pushing his “You Got 30 Minutes” motto.

10:34 PM

I take Neil Walker at 2nd base. This leads to the story about how Walker’s father Tom nearly boarded the rescue plane Roberto Clemente was killed on. Unfortunately, our buddy Adam mishears and asks if it was actually Neil who almost traveled with Clemente. In 1972. After a good laugh, we ultimately declare that the chances of Baby Neil Walker sneaking onto Clemente’s plane were next to impossible (he was born in 1985). But hilarious.

10:48 PM

Florida Gulf Coast opens their first Sweet 16 game with a nice run, but in the War Room an even more interesting run is being made. Rob has taken four straight closers, a devastating move to the few teams still looking for a top reliever. By 11 the well has all but dried up.

11:00 PM

The elephant in the room has become the ever-ticking clock. Time limits aren’t being strictly enforced on these picks, and it’s becoming clear we aren’t finishing anytime soon.

11:08 PM

Everyone hates Alan. Stuck with family obligations, Alan is doing his drafting via Facebook chat. Sometimes he responds, other times, the messages linger unread. But as rounds progress, his picks slump in quality, and the rest of us are getting edgy.

11:27 PM

Trend developing: If you ask if a player has been taken yet, we’re telling you he’s hurt. If you ask if a player is suspended, we’re telling you he’s hurt. If you ask if a player is hurt, we’re telling you you’re probably better off with Johan.

11:31 PM

The Commissioner informs us that there is only one DL spot. Anarchy ensues.

11:46 PM

Alcides Escobar earns me my third “Fuck You” of the night, putting me up there with the greats. I’m in fine form tonight. I’ve gotten everyone I wanted, I just don’t know if they’re any good.

11:58 PM

After our Round 16 picks, Ryan Rob and I, picking 4th 5th and 6th respectively, makes a bolt for 7-11. It’s candy time, bitches. I head inside and grab a Take-Five and Snickers PB box of Matzoh and we make it back without missing a beat.

12:14 AM

It has officially become a struggle. I’m on a couch in the next room; doing that thing where I’m listening and paying attention to the draft but also my eyes are closed and falling asleep would kick ass. But I’m not asleep, and right as I hear my name called, I reply back with a quick “Ben Revere”. We push onward.

12:31 AM

Andrew is in the corner drafting 3 teams and it is beginning to wear the big man down. He is our lone lifeline to Facebook Alan, and has been making “Best Available” selections for Absent Max all night. He’s about halfway through a 2 liter of cola, and at this point, it may not be enough.

12:40 AM

I have begun to share my resources. Tonight I’m only using two printouts: An ESPN Top 300 ranking, and an ESPN positional rankings sheet that I’ve highlighted with sleepers and overhyped players from rotochamp.com. Sure enough, Ryan’s laptop shuts off and destroys his spreadsheet in the process. I give him my spare Top 300 and let him peer at the positional list. He is intrigued by its highlighting. I explain it’s for sleepers and overhyped players, but don’t reveal which one is which. Being evil can be fun.

12:43 AM

“GODDAMIT BABY NEIL WALKER GET OFF THIS PLANE!!!”

12:52 AM

I have identified the Wild Card in the room. Every league has a guy that nobody takes seriously, and his team never gets enough respect. Then they usually fare pretty well. Well this league has Brennan. Brennan’s best friends with the Commish, and has been using his advice effectively. It’s three rounds before I notice he’s taken A.J. Pierzynski, and by that time there aren’t many catchers left.

1:09 AM

If midnight was a struggle, the 1 am hour has turned this into a chore. “How It’s Made” drones on in the background, as we’ve all grown sick of SportsCenter reruns. We are plowing through the last two rounds standing up; Brennan and the Commish make their final picks with their coats on and leave shortly after.

1:30 AM

It’s over. We breathe a sigh of relief and marvel at the Board, our color-coded bounty standing before us. Suddenly, life becomes easier to manage, and we sit for an extra 20 minutes just marveling at our creation. Analyzing a newly completed draft board like it’s a work of art; we compare each other’s newly formed squads and, of course, talk early trade. Rob’s run on closers becomes the main storyline of the draft, but it comes with a price- he didn’t take a catcher. Rob settled for J.P Arencibia in the final round, but he may have to deal a closer or two if he wants to improve.

Another successful draft indeed, and 5 hours of drafting now parlays into 5 months of fantasy action. Good luck in your own league, and thanks for pretending to care about mine.

Lunch: Spring Reign

The Royals are attempting to make the playoffs for the first time since 1985 (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

The Royals are attempting to make the playoffs for the first time since 1985 (AP/Charlie Riedel)

Don’t look now, but the Kansas City Royals are undefeated through 10 Spring games. 

Hey, stop laughing!

I know, it’s the Royals. The doormat Royals that everybody snickers at. The same Royals who haven’t been to the playoffs since the Reagan administration. But hey, the Royals think they’re ready to win, and for the first time I can remember, their roster actually reflects that.

Admittedly, it’s not like KC is building off of previous success. The Royals were 72-90 last year, finishing third in a cutthroat AL Central. The most valuable takeaway from last season was that it was another season for their young talent to develop.

The youth of this team has people thinking success cannot only be obtained, it can be sustained. Their young core of Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas and Billy Butler combined for 301 RBI last year. All five of those players are also aged 26 or younger. They hope to grow and increase their consistency this year, improving on a 2012 season that had KC finish 20th in total runs.

But the real eyebrow-raising in KC comes from the mound. The Royals made a huge move, possibly a defining move, when they sent megaprospect Will Myers to Tampa in exchange for pitching. James Shields and Wade Davis solidify their rotation, but this move will be scrutinized heavily over the next few years. Myers will most likely start the season in the minors, but expect a Trout/Harper-esque explosion when the Rays finally call his number.

If you’re reading this, you’re ahead of the curve. Because the Royals will start hot on Opening Day, and their start will be comparable to the Pirates in the first half of last season. So go tell your buddies, and watch them smile. Because knowledge is power, and Humble Pie is scrumptious on a summer day.

Brunch: Now When You Say, “Classic”….

wbc

Here it is!  Today’s the big day! It’s the WBC!

The Baseball event we’ve been waiting for!

Um, anybody there?

For the third time now, ESPN has done a subpar job promoting the World Baseball Classic. Running until March 19, 16 countries will be competing for a trip to the Championship Round at AT&T park in San Fran. There are two newcomers to the field this year, involving a new wrinkle in the rules. A qualifying tournament was held for the last two spots in the tournament, which in the past two Classics were given to Panama and South Africa. Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome the national teams from Spain and Brazil! Two countries that are so accustomed to their teams dominating one sport are sure to love watching their homeland getting destroyed by the likes of Chinese Taipei.

The real draw of the WBC is that no other major baseball tournament had ever before used MLB players. And the USA roster has a decent amount of firepower. David Wright, Brandon Phillips, and Mark Teixeira provide a solid infield and Ryan Braun could provide the power necessary to give the USA its first medal.

Oh, you didn’t know? Team USA has yet to medal in either of the previous two Classics. Truth is, this field is very competitive. There are 11 All-Stars on Venezuela’s roster, including Miguel Cabrera, and they finished third last time around.

But the real trouble is in the Far East.

Japan is fielding an all-domestic team this year, so no namedropping necessary. The WBC has been the most watched sporting event in Japanese television history, and why not- they are the two-time defending champions. Their biggest rival is South Korea, who also has a roster filled with players you’ve never heard of. Just know this: South Korea is 12-4 all-time at the WBC, with all 4 losses coming at the hands of the Japanese.

Am I going to watch the Classic? Probably not. Truthfully, it’s just not classic enough for me. This is only its third time around, and half of these teams are likely to get trampled early (I’m looking at you, Brazil).

Now the Big East Tournament? That’s Classic.

And it’s the last one, so damned if I miss one last showdown at MSG. BUT, the Big East tourney ends on the 16th. The WBC Championship is March 19. So I’ll be there to bandwagon for whatever team makes it to California.

But with seven months of baseball ahead of me, can’t I just enjoy March Madness?

Breakfast: We’re Having Trout

fattrout

If you can hear the rumblings, it’s not because of Mike Trout’s tummy.

We stand just 33 days away from Opening Day, still plenty of time to evaluate before you do any serious betting or fantasy drafting. But if you’re sitting on the first overall pick, Does 30 pounds make a difference?

You’ve probably seen them already. Tweets about late-night calzones, or stories about Trout eating ½ dozen burgers at a time at his fave spot, Jim’s Lunch. Mike Trout added somewhere around 30 pounds in the offseason, showing up to Spring Training with his gut peeking out from under his shirt.

Ok I made that last part up.

Let’s clear the air on this one. Mike Trout is still only 20 years old. It is not uncommon for a 20 year old male to eat his weight in cheeseburgers (Insider Info), especially at a legendary burger shack like Jim’s Lunch. Seriously, the place is a classic. Take the drive.

Let’s not forget that Trout has also been measured at nine percent body fat. The kid is in ridiculous shape to begin with, and if he wants a little stability to his frame I don’t think anyone would complain. You know who was a freak talent at 240 pounds with that kind of speed? Bo Jackson. Trout doesn’t “Go like Bo”, but he did have 49 steals last year, a huge factor in his outstanding run production.

He also caught a 550 pound grouper in the offseason. So you DEFINITELY don’t want to draft him.

No Gold Glove Necessary (Twitter @JessTara)

Truth is, Trout’s still a growing boy, and these changes are going to happen. He said he put on the weight because he was going to lose it in the spring anyway. But 30 pounds? 30 pounds in 30 days seems crazy even if you were working with Shaun T.

Trout was nearly the MVP last year, and now he’s Josh Hamilton with him in the lineup. It also means he’ll be moving to left field, where his weight matters even less. He’s going to be fine, he’s going to smack 30 homers, and this still won’t be the last article about his weight.

Draft Mike Trout. Eat a cheeseburger. Enjoy your life.