Tagged: Blue Jays

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

Loyalties

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Folks at work often stop by and comment on all of the Texas Rangers/Dallas Stars junk cluttering up my cubicle.  They see my Houston Astros season schedule and probably think “Oh, that’s understandable, they’re a Texas team.” (I actually lived in Houston twice during my life, so my support of the Astros comes naturally…Summer of 1980 = AWESOME!)

Then they notice I also have a couple of Boston Red Sox trinkets adorning my geeky cubicle (geekible?), and more than once I’ve been schooled on this (apparently) unwritten rule:

“You can’t root for two teams in the same league!”

I’ve also seen this rule cited on many a baseball site, and I’ve never understood why it exists.  I can only assume it is a result of narrow minded, absolute thinking, so I suppose I should explain my fandom rationale/methodology:

First of all, when push comes to shove, I am only a “fan” of one MLB team, and that team is the Texas Rangers.  In other words, if someone has a gun to my head (this IS Texas) and tells me I have to choose one and only ONE team to root for, there is absolutely no hesitation in my response: “Whichever team Jessica Alba roots for…”.  But seriously, I’m only a fan of the Rangers.

However, at a more meta-level, I’m a fan of baseball in general, so naturally, there’s a darn good chance that I’m going to follow and “support” other teams outside the realm of Rangerdom.  The Astros are easily my NL team, because of proximity and my aforementioned tenures of residency in Houston.  Do I follow them with the same fervor and attention I give the Rangers?  No, but I always keep an eye on the goings-on down yonder.  Sadly, those goings-on have not been pretty the last few years and I don’t see much hope on the horizon.

So how do I justify my support for the Red Sox?  This just HAS to conflict with my Ranger fandom, right?  Wrong, but I’ll get to the actual fandom rationale here in a sec.  First, the obvious question: “Why the Red Sox?”  Back in 2000, while on a bidness trip to Boston, I naturally took in a game at Fenway Park, and instantly fell in love with the place.  The baseball atmosphere was incredible, so I’ve been a Red Sox supporter ever since.  I even returned there back in October of 2009 (the atmosphere wasn’t near as exciting, but it was just a meaningless end-of-regular-season game against Cleveland).

Anyway, on to my fandom methodology, or how I avoid conflicting American League baseball loyalties:

1. Head-to-head.  I always root for the Rangers when they play the Red Sox, unless the Rangers are so hopelessly out of the playoff picture and the head-to-head game is a “must win” for the Red Sox.  Even then, I’m hesitant.

2. AL Wild Card Race.  No brainer here.  If the Rangers and Red Sox are neck-and-neck in the race for the AL Wild Card spot, then I’m full-throttle Rangers.  No conflict here.

3. Someone in the AL East has to win the AL East.  This is unavoidable.  So I root for the Red Sox to win the AL East because I like ’em and they are not the MF Yankees.  I see no harm in this.

4. Post-season Baseball.  Until 2010, the words “Post-season” and “Rangers” hadn’t really been mentioned in the same sentence since the mid-to-late nineties, and I like to have someone to root for in the playoffs.  The last ten years, the Red Sox have pretty much been there, so I’ve rooted for them.

So I guess you could say I’m a conditional supporter of the Red Sox, and while this still probably breaks the silly One Team Per League unwritten rule, ultimately, I don’t really give a shiite…I’ll root for whatever team I want to root for.  :^P

I hope that clears things up.

Cheers,

-Jonestein

Ohthankgawd!

bbalgod.jpgFor the first time in my baseball life, The Baseball Gods have bestowed upon yours truly a mercifully short off-season.  Don’t get me wrong,  hockey has done a very admirable job of sustaining me through The Bad Time the last coupla years, but brother, it just ain’t baseball.

Pitchers and Catchers, come hither, The Baseball Gods-Uh hath summoned thee!

Hells.  Yeah.

–Jonestein

WILL Jonestein’s Pessimism be Vanquished? Stay Tuned!

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Yes, dear readers, despite the current eight game lead the Rangers have in the AL West, yours truly STILL isn’t convinced, but that could all change during this upcoming nightmare of a schedule.

If the Boys in Blue (or that horrendous bright red, depending on which night you catch them) can get through the upcoming AL East gauntlet of Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, and yes, Buckified Orioles, and remain 3-4 games up in the division, you may very well see a twinkle of optimism in my cynical Ranger fan eye.

Reasons for stretch-drive optimism:

1. Ding-Dong, the Hicks is Dead
It appears, save for a few formalities, that this club ownership ordeal is over. Tom Hicks has been vanquished, and Chuck Greenberg/Nolan Ryan are poised to take us to the promised land.  This is a huge load off the players minds… now everyone can focus on the stretch drive, and not on whether their paychecks will clear the bank.

2. Cliff “Bad Mo-Fo” Lee
Since his acquisition the dude has gone at least eight innings in all of his starts.  His strikeout to walk ratio is downright Kryptonian.  If the bats would just wake up on a consistent basis, it’s almost a guaranteed “W” every time he takes the mound.  Barring a complete Rangers meltdown between now and October, Lee’s presence alone could very well mean getting past the ALDS for the FIRST TIME EVER.

3. The AL West is full of Suck.
I’m purdy sure the Angels are done and we can stick a fork in ’em.  I doubt that even His Scioscianess can right the sinking ship that is Los Anaheim. 

The Oakland A’s, especially Trevor Cahill, have definitely got the Rangers number, and with seven more games remaining with the Oaklanders this thing could get scary quick.  Unfortunately for the future San Jose A’s (it could happen), they just don’t have the bats to get-er-done, IMHO. 

The Mariners?  I weep for Seattle baseball fans.

All of this is well and good.  The 2010 Texas Rangers are easily the best iteration I’ve seen in Arlington during 30+ years of following this team.

However….

Reasons for stretch-drive pessimism:

1. The aforementioned schedule.
I only mentioned the upcoming 12 game stretch with the AL East (who the Rangers are a mere 9-16 against this year).  Even if they come out of said stretch alive, four out of the next five series are against teams that have kicked Ranger butt the last few years: 4 vs. Minnesooota, 3 against Oakland, 3 more at Minnesooota, 4 at Toronto, and 3 more at home against the Ranger-killing Yankees.  This ain’t good, folks.

2. Fatigue
I’m not even talking about the infamous Texas heat here.  The Rangers arrived at this August eight game lead on the backs of their bullpen, who have logged ten zillion innings thus far, and it is starting to show.  Darren Oliver, who was pretty much lights-out before the All Star Break, has seen his pitch control deteriorate of late and he pretty much cost Colby Lewis what should have been win numero ten-o on Sunday.  I hope Oli can turn it around, I really like this dude.

At the plate, and “god” I hope I’m wrong about this, Vladdy looks downright worn-out.  Which is a good lead-in to…

3. Inconsistent Offense
I never know what version of the offense is going to show up these days.  I’ll give ’em a pass against Trevor Cahill, that dude just has their number.  But against everyone else, this on-again/off-again crap has got to stop.  Otherwise, even if the Rangers make it into October, they’ll be partying like it’s 1999.  (not a good thing, folks)

4. Starting Rotation
Even with his Leeness leading the rotation, this bunch is spotty at best.  When they do manage to shine, the offense usually drys up.  CJ Wilson can look brilliant one night and frightening the next.  Rich Harden, unfortunately, is toast.  Scott Feldman, now in the bullpen because of a gawd-awful season, is not the answer. 

On the bright-side, Lee-Lewis-Tommy Hunter might just be enough to stave off the usual August meltdown and POSSIBLY get this team past the first round. 

For this reason, the Jonestein Outlook Alert System will remain at:

CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC

It’s a start, folks.

:^)

–Jonestein

Hilarious 2001 Texas Rangers Comic Book pic from here. 

Divisions Shmisions

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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

The BAPL Hate List

lovehate.jpgSo I’m perusing the MLB page on ESPN.com and I run across this article:

Report says Indians most-hated team

…which is contrary to everything I was brought up to believe in the Teams-I’m-Supposed-to-Hate Department.

Naturally, this inspired me to write something, seeing as how it meshes two things I love:

1) “Hating” things.

2) Writing lists of things I hate.

Now, a quick disclaimer before I get the hate train a rollin’ – I don’t really “hate” anyone, at least in the watch-them-suffer-and-die meaning of the word.  Yeah, I rail on religion and leftist politics and politicians, but I would never seriously do or wish harm on anyone (yeah, yeah, I’ve blustered about wishing a quick and expedient expiration for certain politicians and religilous figures, but that was just blowing off steam)Truth be known, I’m actually just a big cuddly teddy bear.

Anyway, when it comes to “hating” sports teams, it’s the fun, rival kind of hate.  Yeah I may have some serious problems with some of the actions of certain teams and players, but there exists no true hate.  So please don’t take it personally if your team shows up on my Hatedar, it’s all in good fandom fun. 

Now that all of that preamble filler is on the table, here we go:

BAPL Top Hated MLB Teams

1. New York Yankees
From a fiscal, Capitalist, money-making mo-fo perspective, I love these guys.  But they are the Yankees, and as I stated in a previous blog, I’m genetically predisposed to despise Yankees, given my southern roots.  Also, from a fandom perspective, the Yanks are like that bully in school that always picked on you.  Not only could he beat your a$s, no matter how hard you’d fight back, he also just happened to be a filthy rich bully who would beat your a$s then drive off in the BMW mommy and daddy bought for him.

2. Los Anaheim Angeles of Los Californias de Leftiste Coastas
They are the Yankees of the AL West with their deep pockets, always bullying my Rangers.  Plus, they reside in the People’s Republic of Kalifornia.  Plus, they can’t make up their mind what to call themselves.  Plus, their uniforms are ugly.  Plus, Vladimir Guerro is a…wait, he’s one of us now, never mind.

3. Washington Natinals
This is pure hate by proximity.  I hate Washington D.C. and our bloated, overreaching, liberty snuffing federal government.  The Nats, well, I liked ’em just fine when they were playing in front of the dozens of Expos fans back in Montreal.
(Side note: Needless to say, I’m f**king giddy that the Habs knocked out the Caps in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs!  <Nelson> NYA-HA! </Nelson>)

4. Cincinnati Reds
I hate their colors and uniforms, otherwise, they barely even exist in my baseball world.
*Update 4/30/10* – I just signed Mike Leake to my fantasy team, so the Reds, for now, exist a little bit more in my baseball world.  Mr. Leake could potentially help remove his team from this list if he starts getting me some lucrative points the rest of the season.

5. Toronto Blue Jays
I have no idea why I hate this team, other than their ugly-as-hell powder blue throwback unis.

6. Kansas City Royals
Back in the early 80’s, when they were in the AL West, the Royals were always knocking the Rangers out of contention and I’ve hated ’em ever since.  Now I just hate them because they suck and they’re wasting Zack Greinke’s best years because of said suckitude.

7. Detroit Tigers
Because they have the Rangers number for some weird reason and they are Allen Krause’s favorite team.  ;^)

8. Baltimore Orioles
Another aesthetically rooted hate.  Their unis and team colors are hideous.  Plus, seeing Jim Palmer’s alien-like bronze skin on TV during the ’79 World Series traumatized me as a kid.

9. Oakland A’s
Because when Los Anaheim isn’t hogging the AL West crowns, these guys are.

10. Florida Marlins/Arizona Diamondbacks/Colorado Rockies/Tampa Bay Rays
This is pure petty hate, I actually like all of these clubs, especially the Rays and Rockies.  I’m just bitter that these recent (to 45 year old me) expansion teams have managed to come into the league and make it to the World Series whilst my Rangers haven’t even won a damn ALDS series.  *grumble*

Happy Hate Day!

–Jonestein 

Image from here.

Baseball Crack

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“The first one’s free!”

You’d think at the ripe age of 45, I would sense the red flags after hearing this statement.  But alas, when it comes to the game of baseball, I’m still a 15 year old kid susceptible to temptation.

Yes, I’m talking about my latest new addiction, Fantasy Baseball.  Not only did my baseball crack dealer get me hooked on one league, he managed to hook me on two, and let me tell ya something, dear readers, it is some kind of hella-addicting.

Not only that, it has changed the way I watch the game.   It’s not unlike the first time I watched “The Wall” whilst stoned outta my gourd.

Suddenly, I give a crap what Brad Hawpe of the Rockies is doing at the plate, that Torii Hunter just grounded into a double play, or that Matt Cain just gave up a game-tying triple.  Aaron Hill pulled a hammie?  Oh crap!  Now I have a reason to give a shiite about the Blue Jays and am forced to learn that the D-Backs second baseman has a girl’s name.

My fandom loyalties are also being tested and pulled in all directions.  While watching Scott Feldman pitch at Rangers Ballpark this week, I found myself secretly rooting against him because he was one of my fantasy opponent’s starting pitchers.  Then again, Feldman is one of MY starting pitchers in the other fantasy league!  GAHHH!!!   Worst of all, I have Mariano Rivera as one of my closers in both fantasy leagues, so I’m now actually rooting for the Yankees when Mo is in a save sitch!

My advice, “Just Say No” to fantasy baseball, it will take over your life.
(I’m kidding, it effing rocks!)

Now please excuse me while I go knock off a liquor store so I can make my dues in the pay league.

–Jonestein

Cartoon from here.