Tagged: A's

2011 BAPL Crystal Ball

crystal2.jpegHere’s your highly anticipated BAPL predictions for the 2011 season:

AL East
Red Sox, Rays, Blue Jays, Yankers, Orioles

– Unless the Baseball Gods cast another injury spell upon Boston, the Red Sox should easily conquer the mighty AL East.  The Rays won’t suffer from their off-season roster exodus as much as everyone thinks, but will still fall short.  Toronto will have a great year, but unfortunately, they live in AL East.  The Yanks will take a hard fall this year and heads will roll in The Bronx.  Buck will make the Orioles respectable, but the birds in this division would all be better off if they flew west.

AL Central
White Sox, Twinkies(WC), Tigers, Royals, Injuns

–  With the Red Sox taking the East, the Year of the Sock Drawer will continue in the Central with Ozzie leading the South-Siders to a narrow division title over the Twinks…it will probably come down to another last day/tie-breaker in September, but the White Sox will prevail and Minnesota will claim the AL Wild Card.  The Tigers will hang in there, but ultimately fade by September.  The Royals could probably win the division if they’d DFA 90% of their big league club and call up their loaded farm system.  Cleveland is, well, Cleveland, though I’m looking forward to seeing a full season of Carlos Santana behind the plate.

AL West
Rangers, A’s, Los Anaheim, Mariners

– I’m probably being a homer by picking my Rangers here but honestly, after a miserable spring training, I’m not exactly brimming with confidence.  As usual, the pitching sitch is not looking very promising.  But I had my doubts last year and 2010 ended up being the most successful year in franchise history…they should take the West, but it won’t be easy…or pretty.  If the Rangers don’t take it, then I’m pretty sure the Oaklanders will.  The A’s pitching staff is top notch and they made some off-season improvements at the plate, so it’ll be close.  Los Anaheim may surprise us all and just kick the living sh!t out of Texas and Oakland.  They’ve got the starting pitching and a great skipper for sure, but lots o’ questions on offense and in the bullpen.  Seattle is a great city (Mrs. Jonestein and I honeymooned there) and I hear Safeco is an awesome ballpark….they also have Ichiro and King Felix.   *awkward silence*

NL East
Bravos, Phillies(WC), Fish, Natinals, Mets

R2C2 will be really good for the Phillies, but only good enough for the NL Wild Card, as the Braves surprise everyone by taking the East.  Josh Johnson will win the NL Cy Young and the Fish will stay in it till the end, just coming up short.  The Natinals will finally work their way out of the cellar, which will have a new tenant this year, the woeful New York Mets.

NL Central
Reds, Brew Crew, Cards, ‘Stros, Cubbies, Pirates

This will be one of the tightest races in baseball, with the Reds prevailing over the Brew Crew and Red Birds late in September.  The Astros will make another late season charge, but fizzle.  The Cubs will stay out of the cellar only because it is perpetually occupied by the AAAA Pittsburgh Pirates, who will continue to audition Andrew McCutchen for his eventual ascension to a big league club.

NL West
Giants, Rocks, Padres, Dodgers,  D-Backs

The defending champion Giants will once again claim the NL West, but have to scrap it out with the Rockies late in September.  The Padres may challenge again, but I doubt it.  The Dodgers ownership soap opera will continue to help stifle this otherwise decent club, and Arizona will continue to be a great place for Spring Training.

World Series: Phillies over Red Sox in 6

Happy Opening Day Eve!

–Jonestein

Divisions Shmisions

mlb_cap_logos1.jpg

In the past, I’d tried to come up with better MLB division alignments, mostly for selfish reasons, namely the aggravation of having to stay up so freaking late when the Rangers are on the road against their left coast division-mates.

I’ve now reached the conclusion that divisions are completely useless and we need to go back to the pre-nineteen sixty whatever era of just the two division-less leagues, with one slight modification: the top four teams from each league make the playoffs, period.

I reached this conclusion recently whilst watching the Rangers get pummeled by the Toronto Blue Jays, a team hopelessly stuck in the money division, a team that should probably make the playoffs, but probably won’t.  This coming from a guy who has some strange, irrational hate of the Blue Jays (probably because they own the Rangers).

Yeah, yeah, I know all the arguments in favor of divisions and against no divisions, but to me, if you balance the schedule to where every team plays every other team the equal (or close to equal) amount of times, then the teams that finish in the top four slots are the teams worthy of making the playoffs, plain and simple.  Anything else is just artificial intervention by the league that renders the playoffs meaningless.

Case in point: If the season ended today, the Blue Jays would not be in the playoffs, and the Rangers would be.  This is bull$hit, because right now, not one team in the AL West deserves even a whiff of the playoffs, and I suspect this will be the case come October, because the AL West is nothing but a pit of mediocrity and suck.

If MLB were open to shortening the season, I’d even be open to an NHL/NBA-like playoff (sans the division implications), with the first two rounds being best-of-three series.  Some would argue that this is letting TOO MANY teams into the playoffs, to which I would have agreed in the past, but to which I now disagree (just ask the NHL Flyers and Canadiens).

Regardless, the current divisional layouts are crap, and leave otherwise playoff-worthy teams out in the cold while AL West-caliber teams somehow end up wasting network airtime in October.

Argh.

–Jonestein

2010 BAPL UAC Predictions – AL West

Now, dear readers, our 2010 aesthetic journey ends here, in the BAPL UAC’s home division, the much maligned AL West…the “Rodney Dangerfield” of MLB divisions if you will.  But let’s face it folks, this bad rep is most certainly well earned, after all, has this division been anything but Angel fodder for the last ten years?  Even the West’s perennial champs, save 2002, haven’t fared well in the post season, always knocking on the door, but never quite getting in.

The BAPL UAC has other issues with this division, namely that we want our beloved Texas Rangers the hell out of it.  Why?  The suckitude of the division isn’t the problem, after all, our woe-is-me franchise is a huge contributor to the Suckitude Arts of the West.  No, it’s about time zones and away games on the dreaded left coast.

See, UAC council members don’t just restrict their devotion to the hallowed halls of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, no, indeed, council-folk eyes want to be glued to all things Rangerdom on the road as well.  This task is made extremely difficult by the incessant late night start times inherent with having all three of your team’s division two freakin time zones to the left of you.

The BAPL solution (which has repeatedly fallen upon deaf MLB ears)?  Move our beloved Rangers to the AL Central, and move the Royals to the AL West.  After all, does anyone besides Zack Grienke’s parents even watch the Royals anymore?  Of course not.

On to our last aesthetics installment of 2010:   

1. Seattle Mariners 275px-ALW-Uniform-SEA.PNG
Even though this “Northwest Green” looks suspiciously like the dread color teal, the M’s companion colors, UAC favorite Navy Blue, and the highlight color Metallic Silver complement it well.  The Seattle unis, top to bottom, home whites to alts are hands down the most stylish and appealing in the AL West.  Be warned though, Emerald City, should you, like your aesthetically retarded NFL franchise next door at Qwest Field EVER choose to adopt Crossing Guard Green as one of your colors, you will no doubt find yourselves condemned to UAC aestheitic hell for eternity.

Colors (Navy Blue, Northwest Green, Metallic Silver): A-  (Again, this “Northwest Green” is suspect.)
Cap Insignia(s): B 
(
Regionally relevant, looks great on the caps)
Team Logo: B+
(
Again, regionally relevent and attractive)
Mascot: A+ 
(A high school classmate of mine once told me that the original name of the team was the Seattle “Red Mainers”, pronounced Marineers.  I always thought this was BS and the vast knowledge base of the Intertubes has pretty much confirmed this today)

2. Texas Rangers 275px-ALW-Uniform-TEX.PNG
Our beloved Rangers took a huge hit last season when they introduced two aesthetic no-no’s into their otherwise perfect unis:  1) Instead of “Rangers” adorning the home whites, “Texas” now adorns the front of all Ranger Jerseys.  2) No-no number one was possibly forgivable, but no-no number two was a cardinal aesthetic sin: the introduction of the alternate reds. 

These hideous eye sores were no doubt intended to take us back to the “glory days” of the late nineties, when red was the primary color of the team, a major aesthetic screw-up that began with the opening of the Ballpark in ’95.  To the council, the reds just scream “We want to look like the Angels!  Maybe that way, we can be successful like the Angels!”  No, ugly unis are not the path to salvation.  Competent ownership and management (workin on that) and perhaps a stadium with a retractable roof and air conditioning to combat the oppressive Texas heat are the path to October glory (second one just ain’t gonna happen).

Otherwise, we just love the Ranger unis, especially the away grays and alternate blues.

Colors (Blue, Red, White): A-  (Slight penalty for the unorthodox use of red.)
Cap Insignia(s): A 
(
Excluding the red cap, it’s the best cap insig in franchise history)
Team Logo: A
(
Again, best in franchise history, especially since it doesn’t have a fking cowboy hat in it.  I think every pro sports franchise except the Dallas Stars have had, at some point in their existence, a freaking cowboy hat in their logo.  Needless to say, the UAC frowns upon this trite stereotype slapped on the very culturally diverse Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.)
Mascot: B
(Had the council grown up elsewhere, we might very well think “Rangers” is a stupid name, but it’s all we’ve ever known, and like the idiocy that is religion/belief in the supernatural, if that’s all you exposed to growing up, you tend to get used to it.)

3. Oakland Athletics 275px-ALW-Uniform-OAK.PNG 
The A’s unis are a guilty pleasure for those of us on the UAC. Like Sarah Jessica Parker, we know they are fairly hideous at first glance, but they have a certain spunk about them that gives them some weird kind of fetishy appeal.  Like Mrs. Jessica Parker, you might take ’em out to the barn for a naughty roll in the hay, but come prom night, you’d suddenly declare that you “need some space” (probably the same “space” occupied by the cute Asian chick in the Mariners jersey).

Colors (Green, Gold, White): B  (The “gold” looks more yellow than anything..blech)
Cap Insignia(s): B 
(
Timely and not horrible)
Team Logo: B
(
Not horrible, not fangasmic either)
Mascot: C+  (
Meh)

4. Los Anaheim Angels 275px-ALW-Uniform-LAA.PNG
The pre-2002 Angels unis were slick.  Post 2002?  Not so much.  As you’ve surely guessed, assuming you’ve read this whole series, it’s the freakin red.  Too much red is hideous, period.  Bring back the pre-2002 unis, PLEASE!

Colors (Red, Navy Blue, White): D-  (Only the Navy Blue saves them form and F.)
Cap Insignia(s): C 
(
Meh)
Team Logo: C
(
Meh)
Mascot: B (
As much as we despise the fairy tale origins of the mascot, it actually works for them)

Actual BAPL Predictions for the American League Central as mandated by BAPL UAC32910:

AL West
1. Los Anaheim Angels of Los Californios (Will probably reign in the West as long as Scioscia is the skipper.) 
2. Seattle Mariners (It may very well come down to the last couple of weeks, but the M’s will fall just short.)
3. Texas Rangers
(Sadly, I think muh boys are in for a disappointing setback this year and I think they will be struggling just to stay out of the cellar. )
4. Oakland Athletics (Until this franchise gets the hell out of Oakland and joins the Sharks in San Jose, the best they will ever do is battle the Rangers for third in the west. )

Next up: Opening Freakin Day (OK, technically, “Opening Night”, here in about four hours, but that just feels wrong.)

–Jonestein

Note: For those of you out
there that share the BAPL Uniform Aesthetics Council’s weird obsession
with uniform aesthetics, be sure to check out the Uni Watch site.

Current uni Images swiped from team pages on Wikipedia.
  

A Final, Fleeting Gasp of Timid Optimism

optimism.jpgYes, I realize just two posts ago I declared my Texas Rangers DOA, but another glance at the remaining schedules of Los Anaheim and Los Arlington, along with a dash of irrational hope, gives me pause to think my boys can still win the AL West.

My irrational hope is of course contingent upon several baseball planets agreeing to align:

1. The mighty Rangers offense must awake from it’s untimely slumber.  One miserable run in the last thirty-seven innings…the thought makes me want to short-circuit this post immediately and don my Red Sox gear.

2. Despite what our bargain-basement manager, Ron Washington says, taking JUST two of three from the Angels this weekend ain’t gonna cut it!  Two of three would net us one lousy game in the AL West Standings, which, Ron, is still 5.5 games back with just 14 games left.  ONLY a sweep of the Angels will do.

3. Assuming the improbable sweep of the Halos, we must, somehow, someway, figure out HOW TO BEAT THE G’DAMN LAST PLACE OAKLAND FKN A’S!  Three of four next week in the gangsta-infested land of green and yellow would suffice, assuming…

4….the Yankees don’t lie down next week in their three game set in Los Anaheim.  A Yankees sweep of the Halos coupled with some semblance of baseball competence in the Land of Oaks would put us within a half game of first in the AL West.

5. Any combination of break even-ness Sept 25-27, but preferably sweepage by the Rangers and at least one loss by the Angels. (Tampa @Texas, Oakland @Los Anaheim)  Which sets the stage for…

6. …Sept 28 – Oct 1 in Los Anaheim between the Halos and Rangers.  A series win could vault the Rangers into first place. (on a side note: I’ll be at Fenway watching the Sox play the Injuns on Oct 1)

7. But then they face the M’s at Seattle for the final three, with the Halos at Oakland, so it would be a matter of the Rangers clinging for dear life in the Pacific Northwest…hopefully we would not have to face Felix Hernandez in this scenario.

Yeah, I know, this sequence of improbables is as likely to happen as the socialist goons in D.C. thrusting a non-disasterous universal health care system(redundant) upon us, but I can dream (along with the naive supporters of said [insert clever/insulting word prepended with “Obama”].

Please MLB, No Pomp & Pageantry

nflsucks.jpegLast Thursday at the bowling alley, they had the NFL’s equivalent of “Opening Day”, i.e. Titans/Steelers on all the tubes, and I found myself nauseated by all of the non-football crap before the game.  Nothing against the Blackeyed Peas or Tim McGraw, but if I want to see a concert, I’ll buy tickets to one, rent a DVD, or check out the local music scene…and at my age, option #2 would be the likely choice. 

When football is on, well, I’ll probably opt to watch the Texas Longhorns pummel Northwest Central Lousiana Institute of Crawfish Technology before I get excited about NFL football.  I’ve become pretty disgusted with the NFL and all the “Me-me-me!” BS of it’s overpaid prima donnas. I was going to post something on the subject, but stumbled upon Larry Dobrow’s blurb on his CBS Sports Power Rankings for this week:

 

As I ingested the pomp and pageantry of the NFL’s opening night last Thursday, as I listened to the 13-man studio crew conduct seven conversations at once and strained two ocular nerves watching the Black Eyed Peas do everything to rouse an indifferent crowd short of administering Red Bull intravenously, I couldn’t help but be deeply thankful that baseball isn’t more like football.

Yes, baseball has its issues, starting with that whole unfixable salary-disparity thing. Also, Wednesday night’s Giants-Rockies game could well be the last truly meaningful contest until the first week of October, which will leave 18 full days for everyone to get hysterical about the possibility that Scott Feldman will net a few Cy Young votes.

On the other hand, baseball isn’t sold as anything it’s not. The NFL presents itself as America’s Game, the only one in which any team can beat any other on (yup) Any Given Sunday. Of course, no fewer than 20 of its 32 franchises exist in a perpetual haze of mediocrity, and the in-stadium experience has been watered down to the extent that a couch/TV combo trumps seats on the 50-yard-line.

I applaud baseball for staying true to itself, for preserving its pace-of-life rhythms even as it works new thinking and technology into the mix. The game’s the thing, as it always has been. Please keep it that way.

 

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

–Jonestein

Cliché-Time in Arlington

cliche.jpegTodayyy(today…today), the Texas Rangers(Rangers…Rangers…Rangers), stand on the precipice of(of…of…of) the defining moment of their 2009 season(season…season…season) yet again(again…again…again).  If Los Anaheim(heim…heim…heim) is to be overtaken in the AL West(West…West…West), the Rangers must step up to the plate(late…late…late), and either fish or cut bait(ait…ait…ait).

*Steps away from echoing precipice*

Ok, the echoing thing was starting to get annoying. 

Anyway,  I’ll be at 5 of the next 9 games in this upcoming home-stand at the Ballpark, starting tonight against Ichiro and the M’s.  It’s time for my boys to shed this damn win-a-series, lose-a-series, win-a-series, pattern they’ve been stuck in this season, and nothing short of sweeps against Seattle and Oakland will do for the next 6 games. 

See, Los Anaheim has a hella-nasty 7 game stretch(ChiSox, Yanks, BoSox) before next weekend’s showdown with the Rangers in Arlington.  If the Rangers are truly a contender worthy of a playoff birth, they will sweep these next six and pick up ground on Los Angels before September 18.

Otherwise, it’ll be “Wait till next year” once again here in Rangerdom.

Ok, that was a pretty boring post…guess my muse took the day off.

:^)

–Jonestein

Image from here.

 

The Armchair Manager: Triumph in Mordor Edition

RangersYanksAug09.jpegI’m stunned.  Ron Washington made only one…check that, two managerial screw-ups during the Rangers two-of-three series win in Mordor:

1. During the first game, he brought in Jason Grilli in a pressure situation, too soon off the DL…EXACT same mistake he made with Grilli in Tampa over the weekend.

2. He did not have Frank Francisco sufficiently warmed up to replace Grilli when Grilli started getting hammered in the ninth.  Subsequently, Frankie got hammered.  Fortunately, a lousy bunt by Nick Swisher and a timely line-drive double-play to Elvis Andrus ended the meltdown and the Rangers came away with a win (even though I’m pretty sure Hairston was safe there at second).

But I suppose I’m being too nit-picky.  The visiting boys in blue ended up taking the series from the dreaded New Yorkers, so I can’t complain too much (which is a lie, those of you that frequent this here blog know better).

While listening to yesterday’s series finale, I was actually nodding in agreement with Wash’s decision to put Grilli in the game, despite Grilli’s less-than-desirable previous two outings.  See, in the last two outings, Grilli had JUST come off the DL, and Wash stuck him in two consecutive PRESSURE situations, which I thought was stupid.  I felt Grilli needed to work his way back slowly before getting thrown to the wolves.  So how was yesterday’s THIRD consecutive pressure sitch any different?  Easy, despite the ill-advised timing of the previous outings, Grilli DID get in the work needed for the THIRD pressure sitch…and boy did he kick some buttocks: 2+ inning of lights-out, Mordor-thumping goodness.  Nice comeback Jason!

Additional Kudos:

1. Jon Daniels (Rangers GM) and/or Ron Washington for DFAing Jason Jennings after he got bludgeoned by the Yanks during Wednesday night’s 9-2 loss.  Nothing personal against JJ, but he has really looked bad the last month or so…he needed to go.

2. Ian Kinsler for at last breaking out of his pop-up slump and for “popping-up” two into the Yankees overpriced left-field bleachers.

3. Josh Hamilton for that awesome 4 hit night on Tuesday.  I just wish the power-hitting Hambino would resurface.

4. Chris Davis for having a great attitude during his last two months down at Triple-A OKC.  He went down there, got his swing back, and immediately made an impact during this NY series.  That recovery/ball backflip play to Grilli was f’n awesome too!

5. The Rangers Bullpen – Grilli, CJ, and Frankie pitched kick-a$s, lights-out ball yesterday contributing to that impressive 7-2 win.

6. The ChiSox and A’s for offing the BoSox and Los Anaheim last night, helping the Rangers get back to within 1.5 of the WC and 4 in the AL West.

7. Tampa for taking the night off and allowing an additional half-game pickup on them in the WC race.  Yes, we’ll take every inch we can get.

–Jonestein