Results tagged ‘ Cubs ’
My “official” predictions for the 2010 MLB season (before the season gets too far along and starts to affect my judgement!):
Boston (Wild Card)
Atlanta (Wild Card)
AL Champ: New York
NL Champ: Atlanta
World Series Champ: Atlanta Braves
Questions, comments, rants, profanity-laced tirades?!
Earlier today (Friday), the Twins got a great start from starting pitcher Kevin Slowey, the bullpen did its level best to blow the lead, and the bats got just enough clutch hitting to push enough runners across the plate.
However, were Milton Bradley not playing right field at Wrigley, the game may have gone completely different for a number of different reasons…all related to Bradley. Through seven innings, Bradley had made a baserunning blunder, lost a ball in the sun, and was unable to catch a bloop double that went for an RBI for Michael Cuddyer.
In the eighth inning, though, Milton pulled a stunt that will be remembered by the 41,000 paid attendance at the game for a long time. With Joe Mauer up and runners at the corners, Jo-Mo hit a deep fly ball to right field…right into the sun. Bradley finally located the ball and, once it was nestled safely in his glove, proceeded to strike a dandy pose. Never once looking in towards the infield, Bradley remained in that statue-like position for a few moments before casually flipping the ball over the fence. Unbeknownst to him, of course, was that he had only caught the SECOND out of the inning, and thus Brendan Harris continued circling the bases to third. He didn’t end up scoring in the inning, but the Cubs fans really got on Bradley (booing) as he trotted off the field.
So thanks Milt, for providing some entertainment in the afternoon. Hope to see you again (roughly same time, hopefully same place!) tomorrow!
Preview (31-32, 2nd, 4.0 GB DET): Anthony Swarzak (1-2, 5.23) vs. Rich Harden (4-2, 4.74). Harden is making his first start since early May in coming off the DL, while Swarzak is basically pitching for his major league roster spot (what with Glen Perkins due back next week).
Each year, usually after receiving the Sports Illustrated Baseball Preview issue, I make a complete set of MLB picks. It’s always fun to look back at them and see how right/wrong (wrong far outnumbering the right!) I was at the end of the season. Here they are for ’09:
Tampa Bay (Wild Card)
New York (Wild Card)
AL Champion: Boston
NL Champion: Chicago
World Series Champion: Chicago
So, after 100 long seasons of waiting, I think this is the year that the Cubbies will finally win the big one. I just think that their pitching is too good not to make a deep playoff run.
This week, while reading an article in Sports Illustrated magazine, I came across a rather lengthy article (although I cannot recall by whom) discussing how the World Series needs to re-establish its place as the crown-jewel of the baseball season, as in recent seasons (most dramatically this year) the event has lost huge viewership numbers, even losing to the NBA Finals in some seasons. The author of the article layed out a few solutions to the problem, such as starting games earlier (so kids and working adults can watch them), speeding up pitching changes, and doing something to take bad weather out of the equation (like mandating that all new parks be built with a retractable roof). However, I had a much different response to that article that I wanted to share on this blog…
To me, the drop in World Series luster in the recent years has, ironically, been caused by baseball’s biggest accomplishment…parity (eight different teams have played in the World Series the past four years). Think back to when the World Series was a premiere event…it was because the New York Yankees were dominating and everyone either loved them or loved to hate them. Realistically, the Yankees’ last playoff hurrah was in 2004 (when the Red Sox made their improbable comeback)…since then, the World Series just hasn’t been the same in terms of viewership (the Sox got a boost from beating the Yanks, of course).
So, at least in my mind, the best way to return to a star-studded World Series again is to let a big-market team dominate the playing field again. However, I am terribly opposed to that sort of economic structure (despite the excitement it brings to the playoffs, as who didn’t have a rooting interest in the Yankees either way over the past decade?!), so here is what I think is the next best solution…let the natural MLB rivalries develop.
Historically, the ALCS and NLCS series’ have often been more dramatic as the World Series just due to the fact that both teams (being in the same league) know each other so well. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, such rivalries as Cardinals-Astros, Braves-Mets, Yankees-Red Sox, and even Yankees-Rangers (for Texas’ first-round futility against the Bombers) really fueled the postseason structure, creating steam for a big World Series matchup. Because, even though the WS does not, by definition, precipitate geographic rivalries, it can be made more exciting by teams that just came off a thrilling victory. Growing up, I was always very anti-Yankees and anti-Braves (because I despised the advantages of large market teams over “my” Twins), but that “hatred” of those teams made me watch them all the more just to see them get beat! I think the same principle could apply to MLB today, but we just have to let a few rivalries play out.
For example, Red Sox-Rays (as pictured above) could be big for years to come, while White Sox-Twins also has potential In the NL, the Phillies and Dodgers may “get up” for each other after that spirited NLCS, while the Cubs and Cardinals are always at each other’s throats. Plus, who knows where new rivalries will emerge. Just last year, no one would have ever thought Sox-Rays would turn interesting, but look what happened. From my experience with the AL Central, the Twins and Royals have quite a rivalry, but it will only gain attention if the Royals win a few more games (Yikes!).
Thus, I don’t think that there is a “quick fix” to restoring luster to the World Series. I would love to see games start earlier and pitching changes go a bit quicker, but that alone will not restore interest…only teams, players, and the rivalries between them.
With the Tigers losing to the White Sox today, the Pale Hose will now host “my” Twins tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. CT on TBS. Nick Blackburn (11-10, 4.14) will oppose John Danks (11-9, 3.47). On the season, Blackie is 2-2 with a 5.67 ERA against Chicago, while surprisingly the Twins have gone 1-1 (7.91) against Danks on the year in four of his starts. With that huge game still not solidifying the AL playoffs, I would first like to comment on the matchups in the National League’s Division Series:
Phillies in 5: Although Philly has the definite edge in pitching (what with Hamels, Myers, and Moyer) and probably the bullpen, Milwaukee has the great equalizer: C.C. Sabathia. I think that the Brewer’s pitching will be good enough to win at least one game where C.C. isn’t on the mound, as their hitters are a resilient bunch. Plus, I can see Brad Lidge again folding in postseason play. That combined with two wins from Sabathia will push the Brew Crew into the NLCS.
Dodgers in 3: The Cubs have Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, and Rich Harden scheduled to pitch the first three games of the series. Game Over. The Dodgers may win in Derek Lowe’s start, but I don’t think Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda (as good as they have been in September) can wade through the deep Cubs’ lineup. A Dodger victory in this series would be one of the bigger ALDS upsets in recent memory.
Tomorrow, once the AL playoff matchups are set, I will preview them. Go Twins!!