MLB Thoughts on the DH and Early Season Surprises

Max
Max

Max Scherzer sprained his thumb while batting and he thinks the National League needs the DH because of it.

If you want to see the ultimate in knee-jerk reaction than I give you Major League Baseball. Two pitchers in the National League both went down with injuries and both did so while batting. Cue the “We need the DH in the National League” screams.

In St. Louis, Cardinals’ fans are dealing with the loss of star pitcher Adam Wainwright. He is out for the season with an Achilles’ injury suffered while legging out a struck ball to first base. His injury is far worse than that of Washington Nationals’ pitcher Max Scherzer who suffered a sprained thumb while batting today against the Miami Marlins.

“If you look at it from the macro side, who’d people rather see hit: Big Papi or me?” Scherzer told CBS Sports. “Who would people rather see, a real hitter hitting home runs or a pitcher swinging a wet newspaper? Both leagues need to be on the same set of rules.”

Actually, Scherzer has it backwards. What I’d like to see is pitchers actually take hitting more seriously and I’d like to see the American League do away with the designated hitter altogether.

Wainwright

Adam Wainwright is likely out for the season after an injury suffered while batting.

God forbid we actually force American League managers to have manage a game rather than just send guys up to hit bombs all the time. That may be a stretch but I think you know exactly what I’m talking about. Look at Joe Maddon for example, the new skipper of the Chicago Cubs. He came over from Tampa Bay which is an American League team.

He’s already batted pitchers in the eighth spot rather than the traditional ninth in order shake things up increase the chances of an actual fielder in the ninth hole serve as a “second lead-off man.”

Another reason you have pitchers bat is to shorten games. Ya I know, time is money right? The longer fans are at the ball park the more beer, soda, food and merchandise they buy. Well count me as one who would much rather watch a 2 hour and 30 minute game than a three or four hour slugfest. I’m probably in the minority on that but too bad. I get more out of watching a good 4-3 game then I’ll ever get out of 10-7 one.

Want to eliminate the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox brawling every other game? Get pitchers up there in the box. I’m not saying for one minute that pitchers batting would eliminate benches clearing or guys getting beaned but I would be willing to bet that you’d see a drastic reduction in such actions. Teams are not going to sacrifice one of their starting arms just for “revenge.”

At the end of the day, I get it; chicks really do dig the long ball don’t they? I’ll bet they’d also dig being able to get out of the stadium in under five hours too.

MLB a Month In – With baseball about a month old, here’s what I’m seeing so far in the early season.

Biggest Surprises: Tampa Bay Rays, New York Mets and Houston Astros. Did you see any of these three teams leading their divisions even this early?

Biggest Disappointments: Washington Nationals, Seattle Mariners and Cleveland Indians. It’s early, but there are some disturbing trends already emerging with these teams.

Manager on the Hottest Seat: Matt Williams, Nationals. This team was basically penciled in as the NL East winner from day one and many experts had them winning the World Series.

Best Offseason Acquisition: Alfredo Simon, Tigers. With Justin Verlander still not ready to go, Simon’s 4-0 record has been a welcome sign for the Central leading Tigers.

 

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Fearless Predictions for Major League Baseball 2015

Scherzer
Scherzer

Max Scherzer's presence in the rotation makes the Nationals even tougher to beat.

American League

AL East – Baltimore, Boston, Toronto, NY Yankees, Tampa Bay

I like the combination of arms and bats on the roster for the defending division champs from Baltimore. I expect both Boston and Toronto to be in the thick of the race all season long while the Yankees and Rays bring up the rear.

AL Central – Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Kansas City, Minnesota

This will easily be the most difficult race to call and I can see any of the top four teams winning the division. The Twins will be in rebuilding mode and should improve as the season wears on. In the Motor City, I have concerns about the health of both Miguel Cabrera and Jason Verlander. If either of those two miss significant time that could spell trouble. The defending AL Champion Royals have some pitching holes to fill and that concerns me while the White Sox need to stay the course throughout the season and could find themselves in the playoffs if things break right.

Trout

Mike Trout will have another big year but he won't be able to do it alone for the Angels.

AL West – Seattle, Anaheim, Oakland, Houston, Texas

I believe this to finally be the Mariners’ time to shine. The hitting now matches the pitching and I think they’ll take advantage of that. The Angels should be very good but they can’t rely on Mike Trout to carry them by himself. Oakland is Oakland… The A’s always seem to be there despite the lower payroll and this season appears to be no different yet I think they take a step back. I do see improvement from the Astros while the Rangers will sink with injuries to both Profar and Darvish.

Prediction: Joining the four division winners will be wild-cards Detroit and Boston. I like the Mariners and Indians to advance to the ALCS where Seattle wins the pennant.

National League

NL East – Washington, Florida, NY Mets, Atlanta, Philadelphia

Is there any title easier to call than the one the Nationals will win? Substantial injuries will have to occur in order for this not to happen. I see only the Marlins giving the Nats any type of challenge but wouldn’t be surprised to see the Mets shake things up a bit either. Both Atlanta and Philadelphia are playing to get better for the future. It’s going to be a long year in those two cities.

NL Central – St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Milwaukee, Cincinnati

It was a fitting opening night win for the Cards over the Cubs as they won with timely hitting and good pitching. This is exactly what will carry them to another title. I like the Pirates and Cubs to battle for second place while the Brewers and Reds will see who can stay out of the basement.

NL West – LA Dodgers, San Diego, San Francisco, Arizona, Colorado

Despite the Giants being the defending World Champions, I think they take a step back this season. Conversely, the Padres are clearly “all-in” as they have made one move after another to get better. Both teams will battle for second because the Dodgers just have too much talent not to win the division again. This race could be a solid three-team race throughout the season. Both Arizona and Colorado will be battling for basement duty.

Prediction: I like Pittsburgh and San Diego to earn wild-card berths but don’t be surprised to see Florida and the Cubs push hard for those spots. In the end, I like the Pirates and Nationals in the NLCS and I see Washington winning the NL Pennant.

World Series: Mariners in six games over the Nationals.

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Need to Laugh? Here are My April Fools Jokes for the Rest …

JV
JV

My April Fools Day Jokes begin with Justin Verlander and his main squeeze Kate Upton.

As “The Joker” once said, “Why so serious?”

I think it’s time to have a little fun on this April Fools Day and I’m the one providing all of the jokes. Therefore, here’s my list of “April Fools Gags” you know you want to see.

Major League Baseball

Justin Verlander finally kicks Kate Upton to the curb. He goes 35-2, wins the Cy Young, AL MVP and pitches all four games in a World Series sweep over the LA Dodgers.

Clayton Kershaw takes another line drive to the jaw. This time all of his teeth are knocked out and he returns to the dugout looking like “Jaws” from the James Bond movies.

The Chicago Cubs steamroll the competition and take the National League Central by 18 games. They go undefeated through the divisional round and NLCS and lead the Red Sox 3-0 in the World Series when Boston decides to just give up giving the Cubs the title.

RG

Roger Goodell resigns? Don't I wish?

National Football League

The New England Patriots are stripped of their Super Bowl XLIX title after the NFL finds Tom Brady deflated all of the balls personally.

Rodger Goodell resigns citing his total inability to actually make a decision.

Jerry Jones has more plastic surgery. Wait….

Jay Cutler takes his internet image of “Smokin’ Jay Cutler” to a new level when he lights up a Marlboro in the huddle of a four interception first half against the Packers.

Philip Rivers has seven more children bringing his family’s total to 14 kids.

Arizona Head Coach Bruce Arians decides he no longer likes his Kangol and switches to a bucket-style hat.

Marshawn Lynch publishes a book on how to deal with the media in ten words or less. It becomes a best seller and wins numerous awards despite being one page in length.

National Basketball Association

Phil Jackson becomes coach of the Knicks. They go unbeaten in the 2015 calendar year despite only having three players on their roster.

Rajon Rondo and Coach Rick Carlisle spend the summer backpacking across Europe together.

The Lakers re-structure Kobe Bryant’s contract. He will now make $75 million this season.

Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili return for another season using walkers with tennis balls on the bottom of them.

Derrick Rose plays all 82 games of the season.

Lance Stephenson blows into the ear of Marcus Smart and gets punch in the groin.

LeBron James takes his talents back to Miami after losing in the Finals again with Cleveland. Cavs’ fans box up jerseys rather than burning them knowing he’ll be back after a couple more titles.

College Football

Michigan will insist that Jim Harbaugh wears Adidas brand khaki pants. Harbaugh refuses instead choosing to stay with $9 Wal-Mart pants as Michigan goes unbeaten.

Nick Saban leaves just prior to the season to take over at Notre Dame after they fire Brian Kelly. Notre Dame pays Saban $15 million per year and tells him most of the players “aren’t catholic.”

Lane Kiffin takes over at Alabama. He’s run out of town after team loses home finale to Charleston Southern.

Florida State Head Coach Jimbo Fisher resigns. Becomes Jameis Winston’s personal man servant in Tampa Bay.

With all three quarterbacks healthy, Urban Meyer decides to go with true freshman equipment manager to play entire Spring game. All three QBs hurt anyway as they trip over their headphone cords.

 

 

 

 

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It’s the First Full Day of Spring and I’ve …

Harrisons
Harrisons

Can the Harrison Twins handle the pressure and lead the Wildcats to the unbeaten season?

With March Madness in full swing there’s too much going on to focus on just one or two topics so my “bullets” are back.

The best thing I can say about my Final Four is all four my of my teams go through the opening games unscathed. Kentucky, Duke, Arizona and Northern Iowa all won fairly handily. That’s pretty much where my excitement ends though because I had Baylor, Iowa State and Eastern Washington all advancing to the Sweet Sixteen or Elite Eight but those three exited with a collective thud.

Speaking of Kentucky, I still think the pressure would be the same had they entered the tournament with a loss but even when they win by 20 plus points they are doubts about their chances. Is the pressure too much? Are they playing too conservatively? Can they handle every team’s best shot? Let’s give the Wildcats a little time to breathe shall we? Even they say they didn’t play well in beating Hampton but now they get a more formidable foe in Cincinnati and I believe you’ll see a more concentrated performance.

Kershaw

Kershaw is probably going to need some dental work after taking a shot to the jaw yesterday.

If you heard a massive gasp for air come from the southern portion of California yesterday that was the reaction to Cy Young Winner Clayton Kershaw taking a line drive off of his grill. The ace pitcher had a tooth chipped but remained in the game and didn’t seem to have any left over effects from the hit. Kershaw looked like he was going to be able to block the ball with his glove but he stumbled as he was still finishing his follow through. Either way, Dodgers’ fans can breathe easy.

It looks as though we’ve seen the last of Kevin Durant this year as his foot just isn’t healing properly. While it hasn’t been made official, Durant has been removed from “basketball related activities” which is typical the first step to being done for the season. The question going forward is whether Durant has played his final game period for the Thunder. There’s no shortage of rumors that he wants to go back to his hometown of Washington, D.C. once his contract is up after next season. If you’re the Thunder, do you trade him now and at the least get something in return for him? Stay tuned on this one.

Sometimes what we forget about the NCAA Tournament is that so many of these kids and their coaches are getting their 15 minutes of fame in what probably feels like a split-second. Watching Georgia State coach Ron Turner fall out of his chair as his son buried the game-winner was what the tournament is all about. It’s also about the many faces of Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo and the reactions of players as that one final shot swooshes through the hoop or clangs off the rim. It really is great theater.

I can’t let today go by without commenting on the goal-tending call that cost SMU in their opening game loss to UCLA. While you probably already know I can’t stand instant replay, if they are going to continue using it, then a play like this has to be reviewable. I don’t care what angle I look at, that ball never made it into the imaginary cylinder and even if might have caught the rim there was no way in the world of Science Guy Bill Nye that the ball was going in. We allow these kids to play above the rim the entire game then suddenly scold them when they make an instinctive play. The officials rewarded a player for a brick and that’s what this is ultimately about.

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March Madness, Chip Kelly and Will Ferrell All in One Day

Bracket
Bracket

Ready to fill yours out?

Later tonight, millions of people across the country will be sitting at their computers and they will make decisions that will last a lifetime and some that will last all of five seconds. Some will make these decisions the “old fashioned way” with a sheet of paper and a pencil and by Thursday morning they will have gone through at least two or three erasers.

This is the annual rite of passage known as “March Madness.” Good luck to all of you as you research, flip coins and pray to the basketball gods that you’re making the right picks this year. Let’s move on to other thoughts…

Chip

The madness of Chip Kelly has been the talk of the NFL offseason to this point.

Chip’s Philosophy

There’s no way to know if Philadelphia Eagles’ Head Coach Chip Kelly is a genius or a fool until the 2015 season is unfolded but I can’t fault him for doing what he believes is the right thing. Too many coaches claim to have a philosophy but don’t stick to it. I’ve always viewed Kelly’s offense as needing a mobile quarterback or at the very least one who has good lateral movement.

If anything, Sam Bradford has gotten less mobile after knee injuries that have hampered his career. I understand that he ran a similar offense in college at Oklahoma but that wasn’t ‘yesterday’ and Bradford has proven to be a sturdy as a China doll. If Bradford stays healthy throughout the 2015 season then Kelly could come off looking like the genius some claim he is. Give Chip credit for at the very least sticking to a philosophy although it could be one that loses him a job if Bradford goes down again.

Tourney Time

If you’re looking for my own Final Four selections for this year’s tournament I’ll be honest; I’m not set on them yet. What I can tell you is that Kentucky will get to the Final Four considering they’ll play close to home and, oh yeah, they’re pretty good too. Notre Dame is hot entering the tournament having won the ACC but I’m not touching them because they just don’t play the type of defense necessary to win the title.

Villanova is intriguing. They won the Big East yesterday and have been pretty solid all season. Virginia isn’t quite 100% and that could cost them while Duke is up and down to the point where they are hard to figure. Traditional powers Wisconsin and Michigan State play for the Big Ten Title today but I’m not sure the conference has prepared them for the big dance.

In other words, stay tuned this week and I’ll give you my picks.

Shut Up John Madden 

Long-time NFL broadcaster and Hall of Fame Oakland Raiders coach John Madden spoke up this week about comedian Will Ferrell’s day of baseball and he wasn’t happy about it. Madden said it was disgraceful and embarrassing to the game for Ferrell to do what he did on Thursday.

For the record, Ferrell played for 10 different MLB teams in Spring Training games all in one day. He did this in an effort to raise money in the fight against cancer. Let’s be real clear here; this is SPRING TRAINING! Most of the players are already bored with it and any chance to have something change the status quo is more than welcome.

Ferrell also brought a great deal more attention to games than they would have had otherwise. He was his usual self and made people laugh throughout the day and I see nothing wrong with it. Perhaps Madden has finally reached “Grumpy Old Man” status.

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Thoughts on Rory,NFL Free Agency and the Kentucky …

Rory

 

Rory

Rory McIlroy isn't in any way like Tiger, but when he tosses a club into a pond he still needs to be held to the same standard.

As hard as I am on Tiger Woods, I’m a little disappointed that the sports media world hasn’t been a little harder on Rory McIlroy after he chucked his 3-iron into pond on the par five fifth hole at Trump Doral. One ESPN writer even went so far as to say “it wasn’t all negative.” Wait a minute… Why do we crush Tiger Woods for moments of anger that are a simple as a curse word but McIlroy gets a pass? Sorry but if you’re going to continue to push golf as a game of honor then demand it from all players not just some.

National Football League’s free agent frenzy is underway with some surprises and some some very expected moves. Ndamukong Suh will reportedly sign the richest deal for a defensive lineman ever on Tuesday when the formal signing can begin. Suh will get $60 million in guaranteed money as heads to the AFC East to play for the Miami Dolphins. The Raiders were thought to be major players for Suh but in the end the first rumored team to want him has gotten him.

Cobb

Randall Cobb surprised a few people with his decision to stay in Green Bay for less money.

In a bit of a surprise, Randall Cobb re-signed with the Green Bay Packers after it appeared there was no way they would be able to afford him. The Raiders reportedly offered him as much as $11-12 million per season but Cobb made a decision that far too many players do not. He chose less money and the chance for team success over anything else. Cobb continues to catch passes from Aaron Rodgers and will benefit from having other talented receivers around him.

I’m not sure I understand what the Philadelphia Eagles are up to in terms of their running back situation. They traded LeSean McCoy who is arguably in his prime years and now are rumored to be looking at former 49ers’ running back Frank Gore who is absolutely on the downside of his career. Granted, if they sign Gore, he’ll make much less money than McCoy would have but at the same time isn’t McCoy a better fir for the Chip Kelly offense?

No pun intended by this but what a tough break for the San Francisco Giants who have lost outfielder Hunter Pence for six to eight weeks. Pence, who played in all 162 games last season was struck on the forearm which fractured while he was batting. The defending champion Giants really have no room error in their quest to return to the playoffs. With the Dodgers already poised to be the division’s best team, the much-improved Padres will not be easily dismissed in 2015 either.

The Kentucky Wildcats achieved a perfect 31-0 regular season on Saturday with a win over SEC rival Florida. The arguments will be far and wide as to whether the team needs to lose in the SEC Tournament in order to capture the National Title. My take is that there will be pressure on these kids one way or another. They’ve been the overwhelming favorites to win the title since the season began and losing in the conference tournament will not make a bit of difference in the amount of pressure these players will face. Should UK lose somewhere in the next four weeks, the hindsight will be ridiculous. Just let the kids and John Calipari navigate the waters. There will be rough seas ahead one way or another.

Usually by this time in the NBA season I have a firm grasp on who I think will win the title but to be honest, I think any team in the Western Conference is capable of winning the championship while in the East I have faith only in the Hawks and Cavaliers.

 

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2015 MLB Player Props

casino-11

The Major League Baseball 2015 regular season starts in just over one month. Odds makers have just released an array of different props that can be bet on for the season.

Bookmakers have released MLB World Series futures, divisional odds and win total, but now there are player specific props to wager on as well.

One prop bet that is always the most popular is the player who will hit the most home runs. Last season that player was Nelson Cruz in the American League with 50 and Giancarlo Stanton with 37 led the National League.

Stanton this season is the favorite at +600 to lead the majors in home runs. According to Bovada and betonline, Stanton is +600, Jose Abreu is +800 and Chris Carter is +1800.

A number of other key statistical offensive categories are available to make future bets on.

The league leader for hits has an over/under of 213.5.

Last season just one player Jose Altuve had 200 or more hits with 225. Odds makers such as topbet and sportsbook.com have Altuve leading the majors in hits but with just 195.

The batting average leader in the league is set at .341 for the over/under. Altuve led the league in batting average last season as well as in hits. He finished at .341, with Victor Martinez at .335 in second and Michael Brantley at .327 in third.

The number of home runs has an over/under of 43.5. No individual hitter is expected to hit over 41 home runs this season. Since 2001, the number of homes has continually dropped.

The most RBIs are set at 124.5 for the over/under. Last season the top RBI man was Adrian Gonzalez for the Los Angeles Dodgers with 116 and just 12 hit the 100 RBI mark. Both Stanton and Miguel Cabrera are expected to have 104 RBIs in the season making them co-favorites in that category.

The leader in stolen bases for this season has an over/under of 63.5. Dee Gordon of Miami and Billy Hamilton of Cincinnati will be the top two in stolen bases. Gordon led the league last season with 64 stolen bases, while Hamilton tied Altuve for second at 56.

From hitting to pitching, the league leader for wins is set at 21.5. Last season the most wins were 21 by Clayton Kershaw, while Johnny Cueto and Adam Wainwright recorded 20 apiece. Just one pitcher in the last five seasons, Justin Verlander in 2011 with 24, has won 22 or more games.

The most saves in the league is set at 47.5. Fernando Rodney last season led the league with 48 saves. Five top relievers in the league are predicted to record only 35 saves this season, which is astronomically low. After all, in 11 of the last 14 seasons, at least one pitcher has had 48 or more saves.

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