Tagged: Orioles

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

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Loyalties

mlb_blog_sig.JPG

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!

rangers-cover-sml1.jpg

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. 

The Glass is Still Half Bankrupt

pessimism.jpg

I know, I’m supposed to be gushing with giddy optimism because the Rangers acquired Cliff Lee, but it just ain’t happenin’.  Yeah, there’s plenty of “gid”, Lee’s a bona fide bad a$s, probably the most legit ace the Rangers have had in eons, but I remain pessimistic for a number of reasons:

1. Brutal second-half schedule.
Starting with four at Boston, then a trip to that Rangers Hell known as Tigers Ballpark (I know, it’s known as something else, but I refuse to use dooshy corporate ballpark names).  Still have 14 games with Los Anaheim, as well as another series with Boston and the Yanks, not to mention road trips to Toronto, Tampa, Minnesooota, and I never thought I’d be weary of this one – a four game road trip to Baltimore.  Oh, and 43 of the remaining 74 games are on the road. 

2. Questionable pitching.
Even with the addition of His Leeness, this starting rotation is questionable at best.  Feldman just flat-out sucks, C.J. is meh, the jury is still out on Colby Lewis, as it is on Tommy Hunter.  The bullpen is warn out, though the Alexi Ogando call up and the acquisition of the inning-devouring Cliff Lee might ease the stress there.  Who the hell knows what we’ll get from Rich Harden when he returns, and I have a hunch that Derek Holland is done for the year.

3. Molina? Really?
I don’t know what the hell J.D. was thinking with this trade.  I thought the Treanor/Max Ramirez platoon behind the plate was working just fine.  It is downright painful to watch Molina labor around the base pads… this coming from a fat guy (me) who is getting really sick of the de-humanization of fat people in today’s society.  I might have been ok with JUST giving up Chris Ray for Molina, but wasting a good prospect like Michael Main?  This reeks of farm system mistakes from front offices past.  I’m told I’m wrong about this from baseball acquaintances seemingly more baseball sageier than I.  I hope they are right, cuz it looks to me like we just gave away a good prospect for a guy who looks like me running the bases.

I know I could probably itemize some more, but I’m already getting bored with this post.  It boils down to this: until this team makes it to, AT A MINIMUM, the ALCS, and AT LEAST puts up a hard-fought, go-to-seven-games fight, I will forever be a pessimist in the land of Rangerdom.

And please, don’t tell me to “just have faith”, “faith” is for…well, don’t get me started on that.

–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.

2010 BAPL UAC Predictions – NL Central

Genesis.  Redemption.  Forgiveness.  Those who dwell in Bronze Age fairy tales will no doubt claim these words to be of their realm, to which the BAPL Uniform Aesthetics Council and at least one portly comedian would exclaim, “Nay, Nay!”

No, dear readers, to the UAC, these three words, aesthetically speaking, are associated with one thing: the NL Central.  That is, four of the six teams occupying the NL Central.  You see, if it wasn’t for the late 70’s/early 80’s
incarnations of the Houston Astros, Pittsburgh Pirates, Milwaukee
Brewers, and St. Louis Cardinals, the UAC might very well not exist.

Genesis
al_1981_texas_02_road.jpgCouncil
members growing up in North Texas during this dark age of uniform
aesthetics already had to deal with the hideous powder blues of the Texas Rangers
(UAC team of choice).  While mainly used as road uniforms, young future
council members still had to endure road game highlights during the
sports segment of the local news.  The seeds of UAC genesis were being
sown.

nl_1980_pittsburgh_01.jpgThen came the 1979 World Series
between the Pittsburgh “We are Family” Pirates and the Baltimore
Orioles.  Not only were young future council members subjected to the
retina annihilating yellow and jimpalmer.jpegblack unis of the Pirates, they were forced to endure the alien-like, orangy-bronze skin of Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer.  Nightmares were had.  Beds were wet.  Therapy was sought.  It was traumatic, to say the least.

nl_1980_houston_02_home.gifThen, the summer of 1980, when, at the tender age of 15, UAC founder
Jonestein was sentenced to a summer of hard labor at a wallpaper
warehouse in Houston for the heinous crime of being “little brother”.  
What at first seemed like a  merciful gesture from Judge Mom, i.e. a
giant package of Houston Astros tickets (lower level, 3rd base side,
between home plate and 3rd…they freakin rocked) for the summer,
proved to be an aesthetic nightmare for young Jonestein.  A summer of
watching the “Rainbow Era” Astros aesthetic barbarism was capped
off with more of the same in the 1980 NLCS, with the added assault
of the 1980 Philadelphia Phillies powder blues.

al_1982_mil_stl_01.jpgThe final straw came during the 1982 World Series, or “Powder Bluetzkreig”,
as it is affectionately called in UAC circles, between the St. Louis
Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers. As if the sight of Pete Vukovich
wasn’t enough, the Brewers road PBs with their yellow trim were truly
horrid. (The image to your right doesn’t do them horrific justice).
This traumatic assault on the aesthetic senses made the founding of the
council inevitable.

Redemption & Forgiveness
The BAPL UAC has come a long way since the Powder Blue Dark days of
Mordor.  Frodo has since dropped the Evil Powder Blue Ring into the
bowels of Mount Doom and at last, the Four Batsmen of the Aesthetic
Apocalypse have managed to find some fashion sense.  And while the
council will never forget, they most certainly do forgive: 

1. Milwaukee Brewers MLB_Uni_MIL.PNG
Perhaps
one of the UAC’s favorite set of uniforms.  They sport the colors of
the national Libertarian Party and fit well around the belly of Brewers
portly first baseman Prince Fielder.  And did we mention the beer?

Colors (Navy Blue, Gold, White): A(Strongest asset of Brewerwear)
Cap Insignia(s): A 
(We likee)
Team Logo: A (We still likee)
Mascot: A+ (Makers of the council’s favorite beverage, can’t go wrong there.)

2. St. Louis Cardinals MLB_Uni_STL.PNG
Assuming you’ve read the previous prognostications this week, you might
be inclined to wonder how a team with red foundations manages to rate a
number two spot in the aesthetic standings.  Simple.  The boys from Saint Lou
actually do the color justice, not over using it on their traditional
home whites and away grays.  Plus, they stick with the classics,
something that will almost always sway the aesthetic hearts of the UAC.

Colors (Cardinal Red, Navy Blue , White): A  (Judicious use of the red, navy blue always a plus)
Cap Insignia(s): A 
(Time honored and highly recognizable)
Team Logo: B+ (While the council generally isn’t fond of birdlike logos, this one flies)
Mascot: B (Of all
the bird mascots in baseball, we’re betting the Cardinal was the
beneficiary of Blue Jay and Oriole lunch money back in songbird grade school.)

3. Pittsburgh Pirates MLB_Uni_PIT.PNG
Oh,
how the Pirates unis have come along since 1979.  The home whites and
away grays are hella-nice and almost make up for the eye-trauma caused
by the ’79 monstrosities.  The first alternate violates UAC Code 86A – Sleeveless Jerseys Look Silly,
but the away alts with their black jerseys adorned with the Pittsburgh
“P” are nearly fangasm-worthy.  The council also gives extra kudos to
the three major Pittsburgh teams for being consistent with their color
schemes. (With the exception of the Penguins powder blues…blech)

Colors (Black, gold, white): A  (Black and gold, when used properly, look sharp.)
Cap Insignia(s): A 
(Simple, looks nice)
Team Logo: D (
Nah, we do not likee)
Mascot: C+ (
Possibly the only team in the sports universe that it works for)

4. Chicago Cubs MLB_Uni_CHC.PNG
Council members have never like the Cubs “C” logo, and can’t
come to a consensus as to why.  Even back in the day when the council
would watch the Cubs on WGN whilst pretending to be home sick, the “C”
was not the slightest bit appealing.  Otherwise, the cubbie unis look
great, especially the road grays.

Colors (
Blue, Red, White): A  (Lots o’ blue…beddy nice)
Cap Insignia(s): D 
(
Meh. Mentioned above)
Team Logo: D
(Ditto)
Mascot: D-
(Kind of wimpy.  No, not kind of…is wimpy)

5. Houston Astros MLB_Uni_HOU.PNG
While the council has forgiven the atrocities of the “Rainbow
Era”, this confusing “Red Brick” color utilized as a highlight color on
the home and aways, and predominately on the alternates, makes the
council think the color red and the color orange have been making incestuous whoopee,
with unsightly offspring consequences.  The home pinstripes can stay,
as can the away grays, but the alternate love-children from the hellish
red/orange union must join the Rangers powder blues in the depths of
Mordor.

Colors (Black, Brick Red, Sand): F  (Think we covered it)
Cap Insignia(s): A 
(Looks great on the black cap)
Team Logo: C+
(Not awful.)
Mascot: B-
(Surprisingly, this has nothing to do with the space programs associated with Houston, but with Astroturf…so we are told. )

6.  Cincinnati Reds  MLB_Uni_CIN.PNG

Red.  Reds.  Alternate reds.  Blech.
Nuff said.


Colors
(Red, White, Black): F  (Again, red. Blech)
Cap Insignia(s): C 
(Meh.)
Team Logo: C
(Meh.)
Mascot: C
(Meh)

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

NL Central
1. St. Louis Cardinals (Albert & Co. will reign supreme in the Central once more)
2. Chicago Cubs (The Cubs will fall short once more)
3.
Milwaukee Brewers (At least the Brewers will look good being in third)
4. Cincinnati Reds (Fourth could just as easily go to the ‘Stros)
5. Houston Astros (Fifth could just as easily go to the Reds)
6. Pittsburgh Pirates
  (Home Sweet Home)


Next up: the NL West

–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.

Old style uni images from the Dressed to the Nines uniform database.

Current uni Images swiped from team pages on Wikipedia.