NL Playoff preview

National League:

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Milwaukee Brewers

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Philadelphia Phillies


The Arizona Diamondbacks surprised the baseball world when they overtook the San Francisco Giants in the second half of the season and never looked back. They won NL West by eight games over the defending champion San Francisco Giants.  Justin Upton led the way offensively by hitting monster home runs. He actually led the National League in average distance of home runs. Ian Kennedy led the pitching staff, tying for the National League league in wins.  The Milwaukee Brewers had the best home record in baseball at 57-24. The Brewers led the NL Central most of the season and won it by six games over the Cardinals.  Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder have led the way on offense, hitting 71 home runs with 231 RBIs between the two of them. Yovanni Gallardo, Zach Grienke and Shaun Marcum provide a deep rotation while John Axford and KRod close out games in the back-end of the bullpen.

Justin Upton won’t win the NL MVP, but will definitely finish in the top ten. Upton hit 31 home runs, had 88 RBIs, stole 21 bases and scored 105 runs. He was the focal point of the offense. Other pieces included Chris Young, who hit 20 home runs and stole 22 bases, and Miguel Montero, who hit .282 with 18 home runs and 82 RBIs. Perhaps the most surprising aspect for the Diamondbacks was their pitching staff.  Their ace Ian Kennedy went 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA. Prior to this season, Kennedy was 10-14 in his career. Daniel Hudson was a solid #2, winning 16 games. The bullpen, last season, was one of the worst in history.  Guys like David Hernandez, Brad Ziegler and JJ Putz solidified this year’s bullpen.  Hernandez posted a 3.38 ERA, Ziegler a 1.74 ERA after coming over in a trade from Oakland, and Putz had 45 saves.  The Diamondbacks won the season series 4-3 over the Brewers.

The Brewers have two top five MVP  candidates in Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. Braun had 33 home runs and 31 stolen bases, along with 111 RBIs.  Fielder had 38 home runs and 120 RBIs in a contract year.  Corey Hart hit 26 home runs while mostly leading off and Rickie Weeks had 20 home runs in only 118 games played because of injury. Yovani Gallardo led the pitching staff in wins, strikeouts and ERA. The Brewers had all five starters in their rotation win at least 11 games.  Zack Grienke, the 2009 AL Cy Young,  made a nice transition to the National League, winning 16 games and averaged 10.54 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched.  John Axford was the closer for the Brewers and saved 46 games.  He struck out 86 batters in almost 74 innings. The Brewers made the first big move of the trade deadline when they acquired KRod from the Mets to set up for Axford. Krod had a 1.86 ERA in 31 games while complaining about how he was used.



On September 1st, the St. Louis Cardinals were 8.5 games behind the Braves for the NL Wildcard.  However, after a magic month, they caught the Braves and overtook them on the final day. They are loaded offensively with Yadier Molina,  Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols. Berkman had a bounce back year, hitting 31 home runs and 94 RBIs, all the while slugging .959. Albert Pujols  had a down year for him, but a very good year for anyone else not named Pujols.  Albert hit 34 home runs, with 99 RBIs, and hit .299. It was the first time in 11 years, he didn’t hit .300, hit 30 home runs and have 100 RBIs.  Matt Holiday had a .388 OBP in 124 games, but was injured off an on all season.  Yadier Molina led the team in hitting at .305 and you know about the defense he provides.  Former Phillie Kyle Lohse had 14 wins with a 3.49 ERA to lead Red Birds in both categories.  He draws the assignment of game 1 after posting an ERA under 2 this season against the Phillies.  Chris Carpenter had a down year for his standards. He went 4-7 with a 3.85  ERA in the first half of the year, but rebounded to go 7-2 with a 2.98 ERA in the second half.  Jaime Garcia went 13-7 with a 3.56 ERA this season.  Garcia’s ERA is a run and half higher away from Busch Stadium which explains why he is starting game 3 at home.  Garcia slowed down in the second half. After going 9-3 with a 3.22 ERA in the first half, Jaime posted a 4.07 ERA in the second half.  The Cardinals’ bullpen isn’t very good.  They were second in baseball in blown saves, but seemed to found something with Jason Motte as the current closer.  The Cardinals won the season series against the Phillies 6-3.

The Philadelphia Phillies posted the best record in baseball at 102-60. They led the NL East from about May to the end of the season.  The Phillies finished the season on a four game winning streak and managed to rip the heart out of Braves’ fans in the process. With the Phillies having nothing to play for and the Braves battling for the wildcard, the Phils swept the Braves out of the playoffs. Shane Victorino led the team in hitting at .279, but really tailed off in the second half.  Ryan Howard hit 33 home runs and had 116 RBIs, but his ankle led to him miss time at the end of the year. Hunter Pence came over in a trade from Houston and was outstanding.  In 54 games as a Phillie, Pence hit .324 with 11 home runs and 35 RBIs.  Chase Utley hit 11 home runs with 44 RBIs in almost 400 at bats.  Obviously, the Phillies were led by their pitching staff. Roy Halladay won 19 games and actually had a better year than his NL Cy Young year last season.  Cliff Lee had two of the greatest months a pitcher could have and parlayed that into 17 wins and 238 strikeouts.  Cole Hamels won 14 games and posted a WHIP of .99.  Vance Worley was a pleasant surprise, winning 11 games and posting an ERA of 3.01.  If it weren’t for Craig Kimbrel and Freddie Freeman, he’d probably win the NL Rookie of the Year.  Ryan Madson saved 32 games as the closer. Mike Stutes, another surprise for the Phils, had a 3.63 ERA in 57 games as a rookie.  Antonio Bastardo had a 1.71 ERA before an ERA of 11 in September pushed his season ERA to 2.64.


Check out the Sports With Balls ALDS/NLDS Predictions

Check out the Sports With Balls AL Playoff Preview

Francona Era Over in Boston

After meeting with Owner John Henry, President Larry Lucchino and General Manager Theo Epstein, both sides decided it would be best to part ways. With a 7-20 record in September and 9 game wild card lead blown, many thought that this may have been Francona’s final year. He felt that it was time for the clubhouse to hear a new voice, and that during the tough times in September he could not get through to the team like he had in other years. Francona spent 8 seasons in Boston winning 744 games and 2 World Titles.

Became Red Sox Manager in December of 2003.

Francona won World Series Titles in 2004

And 2007.

2-time World Champion baseball card, jersey and all.

September was a tough month, where he felt he lost the team.

Tito meets with the media for the last time.

Who stole Terry Francona’s Jersey?

MLB Power Rankings, Regular Season Edition



Heading to October

1. Philadelphia Phillies 102-60- Held the best record in baseball throughout the regular season while breaking a franchise record for wins in a single season.

2. New York Yankees 97-65- Had a wonderful regular season despite not making a major offseason move.  Season highlights included Jeter with number 3,000 and Rivera breaking the saves record with #602.

3.Milwaukee Brewers 96-66-Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder led the explosive offense while the rotation got it together as the season went along.

4. Texas Rangers 96-66-The defending American League champs loaded up the bullpen prior to the trade deadline to go along with one of baseballs premier lineups.

5. Detriot Tigers 95-67-The Tigers go into the postseason with two of the American Leagues best in Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera.

6. Arizona Diamondbacks 94-68- They are entering the playoffs without receiving much attention but Justin Upton and Ian Kennedy really developed into stars this year.

7. Tampa Bay Rays 91-71– Behind 9+ games to start September, down 7-0 in the 8th inning in-game 162…..the franchise continues to excel.

8. St. Louis Cardinals 90-72- The Cardinals look to do some damage in the post season after fantastic playing during the month of September

Planning for 2012

9.Boston Red Sox 90-72-Epic collapse completed in dramatic fashion.  Expect some turnover going into 2012.

10. Atlanta Braves 89-73-The collapse was brutal but attention has found the Red Sox more so than Atlanta who really fell apart in September after leading the wild card by 10 games in late August.

11. LA Angels 86-76Pitching staff was fantastic during the course of 2011.  Some offensive weapons could help in 2012.

12. San Francisco Giants 86-76-The Giants could find the same type of magic the had in 2010 but overall they had a positive season.

13. Los Angeles Dodgers 82-79- Everything seemed to go wrong in LA during 2011 on and off the field.  But the Dodgers finished strong and have a legitimate shot at netting an MVP & CY Young award winner.

14. Toronto Blue Jays  81-81- Finishing with a .500 record was a positive step for the organization.  They face stiff competition in the AL East but are moving in the right direction.

15. Washington Nationals 80-81– Stephen Strasburg dazzled in September along with the Nats other youth.  2012 will be better while 2013 could be great.

16. Cleveland Indians 80-82-A solid summer of baseball in Cleveland.  They didn’t continue the momentum of April but they certainly had a positive season.  September brought back memories from Jim Thome stay #1.

17. Cincinnati Reds 79-83-The Reds will be back in the mix in 2012 with a few adjustments to the pitching staff.

18. Chicago White Sox 79-83-The Ozzie Guillen era is over, unfortunately the Adam Dunn era will continue for four more seasons.  Despite a rough 2011, the division should be up for grabs next season.

19. New York Mets 77-85-Jose Reyes won himself a batting title….will he win himself a new contract with the Mets or does he move on to the highest bidder?

20.  Oakland Athletics 74-88- The Athletics had a disappointing 2011 based on spring expectations.  Health along with some offensive pieces will be the key to a successful 2012.

21. Colorado Rockies 73-89-A healthy Troy Tulowitzki & Carlos Gonzalez is needed next season along with pitching! pitching! pitching!

22. Florida Marlins 72-90- They have acquired Ozzie Guillen, new ballpark, a brutal new logo and possibly some big time free agents?

23. Pittsburgh Pirates 72-90-The first half brought excitement to the city of Pittsburgh, the second half turned attention towards the Steelers.

24. Kansas City Royals 71-91-The Royals need to continue to develop young talent and they will be fine real soon.

25. Baltimore Orioles 69-93-The month of September had to feel good for the O’s.  They really showed up against contenders and play a major spoiler.

26. Chicago Cubs 71-91-  The Cubs and their fans continue to wait for next year. 

27. San Diego Padres 71-91– The Padres look to continue to rebuild.  2012 will be another step.

28. Seattle Mariners 67-95 –Rough season in Seattle.  The offseason question will be what happens with Ichiro and Felix Hernandez.

29. Minnesota Twins 63-99 –Not one single thing went right in Minnesota this season.  Even if they don’t make any moves this team could improve by 20 games.

Round Rock Express

30. Houston Astros 56-106-Houston is in full-blown rebuilding mode.  Should struggle with youth in 2012 but they will continue to improve.


SwBS MLB Division Series Predictions

Mike O

Cardinals vs. Phillies – Plenty of star power and postseason heroes are involved in this battle.  The Cardinals are on fire heading into the fall tournament but its tough to pick against a club that comes at you with Halladay, Lee and Hamels. Phillies in 4

Diamondbacks vs. Brewers – The Brew Crew appears primed for greatness.  They have a big three of their own in the rotation as well as a light out back-end of the bullpen.  The lineup includes two MVP candidates in Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.  But don’t sleep on the Diamondbacks they have a solid staff of their own and a powerful lineup that is being overlooked by many heading into the postseason.  Brewers in 5


Cardinals vs. Phillies – The Phillies have the best pitching staff in baseball with Halladay, Lee and Hamels, but you always have to worry about teams that are hot going into the playoffs. Phillies in 4

Diamondbacks vs. Brewers – Arizona is playing with house money, but the combination of a lethal lineup, solid rotation and bullpen make the Brew Crew very scary. Brewers in 4


Cardinals vs. Phillies Phillies in 4

Diamondbacks vs. Brewers – Brewers in 3


Cardinals vs. Phillies Phillies in 4

Diamondbacks vs. Brewers – Brewers in 4


Cardinals vs. Phillies – St. Louis won the season series 6-3, hanging a loss on each of the Phillies “Aces” along the way.  The Red Birds enter the postseason as the hottest team in the NL and will pull the mini upset in the NLDS.  Cardinals in 4

Diamondbacks vs. Brewers – With all the young star power, this series could end up as the most entertaining match up of the NLDS– even if TV ratings tell you different.  The Brew Crew are more seasoned and have a greater sense of urgency, that proves the difference.  Brewers in 4

Mike O

Tigers vs. Yankees – It may all come down to Justin Verlander vs. CC Sabathia.  The winner of game 1 will have a step up as games 2 & 3 will feature unproven starters who will go up against monster lineups.   Should be a higher scoring series then some may anticipate. Tigers in 4

Rays vs. Rangers – Never count out the Rays, we saw that in September, we saw it with 1 strike to go bottom 9 in-game 162.  As much as my heart is saying Rays, my mind is saying Rangers.  The Rangers host an explosive lineup, under-rated rotation and a stellar bullpen. Rangers in 4


Tigers vs. Yankees – With two teams who have explosive offenses and average rotations after their aces, the bullpens will be key and you gotta like the Yanks in that one.  Yankees in 5

Rays vs. Rangers – The Rays are floating on air and looking for revenge, but Texas is too good to fall into the trap. Rangers in 5


Tigers vs. Yankees – Yankees in 5

Rays vs. Rangers Rangers in 3


Tigers vs. Yankees – Tigers in 5

Rays vs. Rangers Rangers in 4


Tigers vs. Yankees – All eyes on Game 1 as Verlander takes on Sabathia.  Verlander wins two games in the series and carries the Tigers to the ALCS (much as he did for a good portion of the regular season). Tigers in 4

Rays vs. Rangers – Series matchups seem to slant in Texas’ favor with their explosive lineup and shutdown bullpen.  The Rays magical ride ends in Arlington…..but not without a fight. Rangers in 5

Check out our ALDS Preview here

AL Playoff Preview

American League:

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Texas Rangers

Detroit Tigers vs. New York Yankees


The Tampa Rays shocked the world when they stormed back from 8.5 back in the AL Wildcard to win it on the final day.  Evan Longoria’s solo home run in the 12th inning on Wednesday night came within minutes of the Boston Red Sox losing.  The Texas Rangers led the AL West for most of the year and are led by a fantastic offense.  The Rangers scored the third most runs in baseball.  Another important factor for the Rangers is their bullpen. Mike Adams, Koji Uehera and Alex Ogando will set up for Netali Feliz.

The Rays shocked the baseball world not just for their comeback, but for their announcement stating that rookie Matt Moore would start game 1. Moore only has 9 2/3 innings of work under his belt, but is one of the top prospects in baseball. In his first start of the season, Moore struck out 11 Yankees in five innings.  The Rays’ focal point is their starting pitching. James Shields won 16 games, had ELEVEN complete games and finished with a 2.82 ERA. Shields will start game 2.  David Price had a losing record at 12-13 with a 3.49 ERA,but had 214 strikeouts.  Jeremy Hellickson could possibly be the AL Rookie of the Year, going 13-10 with a 2.95 ERA. Evan Longoria leads the way offensively for the Rays. He finished the year with 31 home runs and 99 RBIs, all of that while missing virtually all of April.  Casey Kotchman came out of nowhere to hit .306 and lead the team with a OBP of .378.  BJ Upton continues to make baseball people go crazy with his .241 average, but he did hit 23 home runs and had 31 stolen bases.

The Texas Rangers hit 210 home runs and hit .283 as a team. In a shocking development, Michael Young led the team in batting average at .338.  It’s the sixth season in Young’s career of over 200 hits.  The Rangers had four players hit have at least 25 home runs and five players with at least 242 total bases.  Adrian Beltre was tied for the team lead  in home runs and led the team in RBIs while only playing in 124 games. He was recently named AL player of the month for September.  Ian Kinsler had a 30/30 season as well.  CJ Wilson was the Ace of the pitching staff. Wilson won 16 games, had 206 strike outs and a 2.94 ERA.  All five starters in the Rangers’ rotation won at least 13 games.  Derek Holland, who is starting Game 2, went 16-5 with a 3.95 ERA.  Neftali Feliz is the closer for the Rangers and saved 32 games in the regular season. However, fans were worried because his strikeouts were down and his blown saves were up .  Mike Adams, the great set up man acquired from San Diego at the trade deadline, posted a 2.10 ERA in 27 games in Texas.  Alexi Ogando, who was a starter during the season, will be put in the bullpen to solidify an already great group of relievers. The Rangers won the season series against the Rays 5-4.


-The Detroit Tigers were in a battle for the AL Central until the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox realized how mediocre they were.  In the second half, the Tigers found the right mix of offense and pitching to run away with the division. Miguel Cabrera continued his Hall of Fame like career, but got some help from Victor Martinez, Jonny Peralta, and a surprising Alex Avila. Justin Verlander was the best pitcher in baseball to lead the pitching staff.  The Yankees were actually a .5 game behind the Red Sox in the AL East as September rolled around. Obviously, the Red Sox went belly up and the Yankees took advantage.  The Yankees had the second most runs scored in baseball and used a great bullpen to make up for a lack of pitching behind CC Sabathia.  David Roberston is the best setup man in baseball while Mariano Rivera is the best closer in baseball.

The Detroit Tigers were fourth in runs scored in baseball and it’s not hard to see why. Miguel Cabrera hit .344, had 30 home runs, 105 RBIs, .448 OBP and a OPS of 1.033. If Cabrera doesn’t eat or drink himself out of playing shape, there’s no reason why he won’t be a Hall of Famer when his career is over.  Victor Martinez was a very nice #2 option for the Tigers, hitting .330 with a 103 RBIs.  Alex Avila came out of nowhere to hit .295 with 19 home runs, 82 RBIs and a OBP of .382. Justin Verlander had one of the greatest seasons for a pitcher in baseball history. (24 wins, 2.40 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 250 strikeouts) Doug Fister came over from the dread of Seattle to go 7-1 for Detroit. Max Scherzer had an up and down year, winning 15 games, but posting a 4.40 ERA. Rick Porcello won 14 games, but posted an ERA close to 5. Brad Penny was terrible, but hey at least he’s going to get married to Karina Smirnoff right? The closer for the Tigers, Jose Valverde, is perhaps the most annoying player in baseball with his antics, but did go 49-49 in save opportunities. The Tigers took the season series against the Yankees 4-3.

The Yankees can absolutely mash the ball. Curtis Granderson had a wonderful year, hitting 41 home runs, 119 RBIs, 136 runs scored and 25 stolen bases.  Mark Teixeria hit 39 home runs, but his batting average dipped to .244.  Derek Jeter didn’t have a typical Jeter year, but hit .327 after the All-Star break. CC Sabathia was excellent as usual for the Yanks. He went 19-8 with a 3 ERA and 230 strikeouts. Ivan Nova surprised everyone by winning 16 games.  Freddy Garcia posted an ERA under 4 for the first time in a decade (Just kidding).  Bartolo Colon even posted a 4 ERA.  However, no one believes in these starters after CC.  The bullpen is the saving grace for the Yankees, led by David Roberston and Mo Rivera.  Robertson had 100 strikeouts in 66 innings with a 1.08 ERA. Rivera had 44 saves and a ho-hum 1.81 ERA.  The Yanks even got useful innings out of Luis Ayala and Cory Wade who combined to throw up a 2.05 ERA in almost 96 innings.


Verlander and CC for Game 1, can’t have a much better pitching matchup.

After that game, that series might be a shoot out.

Interesting for the Rays going with Matt Moore. I guess they are going with him because A: Not much of a scouting report, B: He’s too young to realize what he’s gotten himself into.

Certainly possible to see both these series go 5, I don’t think any one of these teams are severely better than their opponent.

Check out the Sports With Balls ALDS/NLDS Predictions

Check out the Sports With Balls NL Playoff Preview

NCAA Football Top Ten Week 4 Recap

10. Oregon 56, Arizona 31

Oregon entered the Pac 12 season on a high note picking apart the Wildcats. LaMichael James ran all over the place for 288 yards and 2 touchdowns. This game was an absolute shootout with a combined 996 yards of total offense. Oregon takes Saturday off and prepares to host California in Thursday night battle.

James tore apart Arizona.

9. Nebraska 38, Wyoming 14

Just when the Cowboys had the Nebraska offense controlled with Taylor Martinez, Rex Burkhead took over. Burkhead ran for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns. This week is the Cornhuskers introduction to the Big Ten, as they head to Camp Randall to battle Wisconsin in prime time.

Cowboys had no answer for Burkhead.

7. Oklahoma State 30, 8. Texas A&M 29

This Big 12 battle lived up to expectations and came right down to the wire. The Aggies got the scoring started when Ryan Tannehill scored from 65 yards out and dominated the Cowboys to a 20-3 lead at the half. Brandon Weeden’s 438 yards and 2 touchdowns helped lead the Cowboys back as Oklahoma State outscored them 27-9 in the second half. Texas A&M has another test this week in Dallas against Arkansas and Oklahoma State has the weekend off to prepare for Kansas.

Brandon Weeden lead the Cowboys back in the second half.

6. Wisconsin 59, South Dakota 10

Russell Wilson continues to shred secondaries as he threw for 345 yards and 3 touchdowns in a rout of South Dakota. The Badgers also demolished the Coyotes on the ground, with Montee Ball and James White running for 183 yards and 3 touchdowns. Wisconsin hosts Nebraska in a huge Big Ten battle Saturday night.

Wilson has the Badger offense rolling.

5. Stanford

4. Boise St 41, Tulsa 21

Kellen Moore has found a new weapon to replace Young and Pettis, and his name is Tyler Shoemaker. He had 102 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns helping Kellen Moore throw for 279 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Broncos host Nevada this week on the smurf turf.

Tyler Shoemaker is becoming Kellen Moore's favorite weapon.

3. Alabama 38, Arkansas 14

The Trent Richardson Show had a special guest this week, his quarterback, A.J. McCarron. He threw for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns in a battle that the Crimson Tide “rolled” in. Richardson was solid running for 126 yards but never found the end zone. The Tide head to the Swamp for a crucial SEC battle Saturday night.

McCarron shined in the rout of Arkansas.

2. LSU 47, West Virginia 21

The crowd in Morgantown saw close to 900 yards of total offense, in a game the Mountaineers were  competitive in for three quarters. West Virginia crept within a touchdown late in the third with a 1-yard run, but quickly allowed a 99-yard kickoff return to put the Tigers right back in the driver’s seat. Jarrett Lee only threw for 180 yards compared to Geno Smith’s 463, but found the end zone three times. Its get easier for LSU this week as they host Kentucky.

Lee was not explosive, but effective in the win.

1. Oklahoma 38, Missouri 28

The score did not indicate how much the Sooners dominated the Tigers. Oklahoma had a commanding 31-14 lead through three quarters behind Landry Jones’s 448 yards and 3 touchdowns. Missouri scored twice in the fourth quarter behind 532 yards of total offense but still lost by ten. The Sooners will keep rolling this week as they host Ball State.

Jones's 448 yards lit the up the scoreboard for the Sooners.

Boston Massacre

Robert Andino’s walk off single followed by Evan Longoria’s shot concluded the train wreck that was the 2011 Red Sox. The season to forget began with an 0-8 start, which most Sox fans thought would have been their worst stretch of the year. Boy were they wrong. The middle of the season was great, with Boston having the best record in baseball from May to August and scoring 5 plus runs a game. While the offense was explosive, one man never really joined the hit parade, that man was Carl Crawford. After signing a 7 yr, 142 million dollar contract, Crawford never seemed to handle the pressure and play like the All-Star he was in Tampa.   With a .255 batting average, 11 homers, 55 runs batted in and a career low 18 stolen bases, he was a huge disappointment in bean town. The pitching was never great all year, but the offense bailed them out of most games. The rotation that was expected to be strong, lost Dice K and Clay Buchholz and never found replacements for them all year. John Lackey, was just as bad in year two of his contract, going 12-12 with a 6.41 era and gave up 141 earned runs. The rotation help at the deadline was Eric Bedard, who did not improve this ball club much at all. He threw 38 innings giving up 17 earned runs and walking 18. He also did not get out of the 4th inning in 3 of those starts.  The bullpen for the most part was much better than last year, until September. Daniel Bard, the potential closer in waiting, imploded in September giving up 11 earned runs and 9 walks in 9 innings. With all these great things happening in September, the Red Sox went 7-20 and blew a 9 game wild card lead over the Tampa Bay Rays. There will be many changes this off-season with J.D. Drew retiring, Jonathan Papelbon a free agent and Jacoby Ellsbury looking to get paid, but the biggest question is whether or not Terry Francona will keep his job. Much like the 2004 and 2007 Red Sox this team will be remembered by the fans, but not for good reasons.

Pretty much sums up Crawford's first season.

Ellsbury had an MVP year.

Never found Buchholz's replacement all year.

That reaction is John Lackey's season in a nutshell.

Bedard didnt provide the impact they hoped.

Daniel Bard's September performance.

Will these two return next year?

Theo has some questions to answer this off season.

New Red Sox killer strikes again.

This Longoria blast....

Concluded the collapse.

The Most Exciting Night in Baseball History.

On September 1st, the Boston Red Sox had a half game lead over the New York Yankees and a NINE game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East.  The Braves were EIGHT AND HALF games up on the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Wildcard race on that day. Tonight the world came crashing down on the Red Sox and Braves. The Red Sox lose, Rays win, Braves lose, Cardinals win.  Red Sox and Braves going golfing, Rays and Cardinals play on. Unbelievable drama. Instead of recapping just the Phillies, Braves, as a baseball fan, I felt was necessary to talk about the other meaningful games as well.

The Yankees, Rays game, Red Sox, Orioles game, and Phillies, Braves game all started around 7 pm Eastern time.  The Cardinals and Astros game started at 8 pm Eastern time. The Yankees got the scoring on this absolutely insane day of baseball started when Ben Zobrist booted a ground ball that scored Curtis Granderson to make it 1-0 in the first inning.  The Phillies made the Braves’ fans hearts skip a beat when Ryan Howard gave his team a 1-0 lead on a RBI double in the first inning. The Braves quickly tied it up in the bottom of the inning on a Chipper Jones sac fly. In the second inning of the Rays and Yankees game, Rays starter David Price found himself in deep trouble. With the bases loaded and two out, he had to get out Mark Teixeria.  Texieria, with nothing to play for, launched a grand slam into the left-center seats for a 5-0 lead. Rays fans and their cowbells were silenced.  Not too long after that, Dustin Pedroia gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead in the third inning over the Orioles with a RBI single.  The O’s didn’t go quietly. JJ Hardy (SS on Warren’s All-Hate Team) deposited a two run home run in the bottom of inning to make it 2-1 O’s.  Phillies starter Joe Blanton was pulled after two innings and Cole Hamels made his first Major League relief appearance. (Phils brass wanted to get him 15 wins) Hamels was greeted rudely by Baby Gap when he hit a two run home run that re gave the Braves the lead.  Back in Baltimore, Marco Scutaro tied the game when he scored on a balk to make it 2-2. Around this time, the Cardinals and Astros got underway. Former Phillie Brett Myers started for the Astros and was terrible.  7 of the first 8 Cardinals reached base in the first inning with 5 of them scoring.  Former AL MVP Dustin Pedroia gave the Red Sox the lead once again in the fifth inning on a solo home run to make it 3-2.  Back in Tampa, the Rays found themselves in a deeper hole after five innings. Texiera and Andruw Jones added solo home runs to make it 7-0. All look lost for the Rays, down seven and with Boston winning.  In the bottom of the seventh inning in Baltimore, the game was delayed due to rain.  In the same time frame,  Atlanta shortstop, Jack Wilson booted a routine double play that allowed the Phillies to cut the deficit to one, 3-2.  In Houston, a Skip Schumaker RBI ground out in the fifth inning and an Allen Craig solo home run wrapped up the scoring for St. Louis. Chris Carpenter threw a two hit shut out and dominated the Astros.  This game was the first to end in a short and sweet two hours and 20 minutes.  The Cards with their 8-0 win were guaranteed at least one more game, but in the mean time, just hung out in their locker room waiting the Braves results. 

The Red Sox and Orioles resumed after  an hour and half rain delay. The Orioles put two runners on after the rain delay, but couldn’t push across the tying run.  Something crazy started to happen in the Tampa. Down seven, Johnny Damon led off the eighth inning with a single. Ben Zobrist followed with a double.  Casey Kotchman was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no out.  Yankees reliever Luis Ayla walked in a run and then hit Sean Rodriguez to give the Rays their second run.  (No way they make it interesting…right?) Desmond Jennings struck out for the first out. (Okay, it was fun while it lasted…right?) BJ Upton followed Jennings’ strike out with a sac fly to make it 7-3. (You know a home run makes it interesting…just saying) With two out, Evan Longoria then did the unthinkable and hit a three run home run to cut the deficit to one.  (HE REALLY DID DO IT!) While the Rays were putting a scare in Red Sox fans, the Braves had a chance to put themselves in the NL Wildcard tiebreaker.  Craig Kimbrel came in for the save and immediately gave up a lead off single to Placido Polanco.  Pete Orr pinch-ran for Polanco. After a Carlos Ruiz strike out, Kimbrel walked pinch-hitter Ben Francisco and Jimmy Rollins. Chase Utley stuck a dagger in the heart of Braves fans when he hit a sac fly to tie the game at 3.  The Phils couldn’t tack on more runs, so there was free baseball in Atlanta.  Further South, the Rays, knowing the Red Sox were winning, immediately had their first two batters of the ninth go down in order.  (Uh oh, looks like the Red Sox got this) Pinch hitter Dan Johnson, down to his final strike, hit a line drive down the right field and hit the foul pole! Tie game! Unbelievable! Free baseball in Tampa.

Back up the East Coast  in Baltimore, the Red Sox had a huge opportunity to tack on an insurance run.  With first and third and no outs, David Ortiz hit a ground ball to short, but with the infield in, Jacoby Ellsbury was thrown out at the plate. The next batter, Adrian Gonzalez was intentionally walked to get to last night’s hero Ryan Lavarnway. Lavarnway had two home runs the night before, but this time, no such luck. He grounded into a double play to end the inning.  As the Red Sox and Orioles were heading into the bottom of the ninth inning, the Phillies scratched across a run in the thirteen inning when Hunter Pence hit a bloop line drive which landed about a foot beyond the infield that scored Brian Schneider. Considering it was the 13th inning, the Phillies had to go to David Herndon for the save.  After Chipper Jones struck out (Larrrrrrrrry.Larrrrrrry), Dan Uggla walked. Freddie Freeman walked up to plate and rolled over on a David Herndon sinker. John Mayberry, playing first base,  threw it second for one out and Jimmy Rollins’ relay beat Freeman by a step. Just like that, the Braves’ season was over. 9.5 game lead gone in a month. Breathe easy Mets fans.  While the Braves were left stunned, the Yankees had a rally going in the top of the 12th in Tampa. With first and third, no outs,  Jorge Posada hit a ground ball to Longoria (That guy again?), Greg Golson, the runner on third, broke and stopped a few feet from the bag which allowed Longoria to tag him out.   For the second night in a row, a Yankees’ base running blunder cost them dearly. Chris Dickerson would strike out and Brett Gardner grounded out to end the inning.  Backtrack to the bottom of the ninth in Baltimore…Jonathan Papelbon, who had only blown two saves all year, tried to finish off the pesky O’s.   Paplebon struck out the first O’s rather easily, but allowed a double to Chris Davis. Davis was pinch ran for with Kyle Hudson.  Nolan Reimold, down to his final strike, hit a laser ground-rule double to right center to tie the game. Robert Andino was the next batter and on a 1-1 count, laced a line drive to left field. Carl Crawford, having a miserable year, slid and couldn’t come up with it.  His throw home was useless, Hudson scored and just like that, the Red Sox season was over.  Just wait though…There’s more! A mere three minutes after that, Evan Longoria stepped into the batters’ box with one out in the bottom of the 12th inning. Longoria ripped a line drive to right field and the ball just got over the wall.  The Rays, down 7-0 and down to their final strike, had done the impossible.  They were the AL Wild Card champion.


Not much you can really say. These last two nights are why you love baseball.  This night, however, I can’t think of any other like it…ever.

I know I didn’t get all the details, but wow it was fun to watch and type about.

Awful hat. However, if tonight is a preview of the playoffs, I can deal with that hat.


2011 MLB Postseason Set

After a sensational 162 game schedule, the baseball regular season is complete.  We now know the complete field of eight teams taking part in the playoffs.


2011 MLB Playoff Matchups


American League:

Detroit Tigers @ New York Yankees

Tampa Bay Rays @ Texas Rangers


National League:

St. Louis Cardinals @ Philadelphia Phillies

Arizona Diamondbacks @ Milwaukee Brewers


Justin Verlander


Derek Jeter


Evan Longoria

Ian Kinsler

Albert Pujols


Roy Halladay



Justin Upton


Prince Fielder - Ryan Braun

Phillies blast Lowe, tie franchise mark

Braves starter Derek Lowe got booed as he left after giving up five runs in 4+ innings while the Phillies crushed the Braves 7-1. The Cardinals destroyed the Astros 13-6 to set up a tie at the top of the National League Wildcard.  Chase Utley, Hunter Pence  and Jimmy Rollins each hit home runs to lead the way offensively. The Phillies, with the win, tied the franchise record for wins in a season with 101 while Charlie Manuel tied Gene Mauch for most wins by a manager in franchise history.  It is unknown if Charlie will play the starters or if he will play the starters for the entire game tonight. The Braves will throw their ace, Tim Hudson while the Phillies will start Joe Blanton. Blanton is not expected to go long and will be followed by Cole Hamels.  With the two wildcards tied on the final day even though the Phillies aren’t in the chase, it’s hard not to get caught up by it.

Much has been said about Chase Utley’s struggles recently. However at least for one night, his 2-4 night at the plate would silence the critics. His first hit of the game was a solo home run in the first inning to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead.  In the third inning, the Phillies took advantage of a fielding mistake by the Braves. After Carlos Ruiz doubled to lead off the inning, Roy Oswalt tried to sacrifice him to third. For some reason, Lowe tried to get Ruiz at third, but Chipper Jones couldn’t get the tag down.  The next batter, Jimmy Rollins would single to right to make it 2-0.  Three batters later, Hunter Pence would add a sac fly to make it 3-0. The boos starting to rain down on Lowe, shocking coming from the awful sports town of Atlanta. Placido Polanco continued the scoring binge with a sac fly in the fourth inning. More boos from the fans of Atlanta.  After Jimmy Rollins led off the fifth inning with a single, the night finally ended for Derek Lowe. Adroys Vizcaino would come in for the Braves and several batters later gave up a moonshot two run home run to Hunter Pence. Pence finished with three RBIs on the night and now has 96 on the season.  Rollins would wrap up the Phillies scoring with a solo moonshot of his own in the seventh inning.  While all this scoring was scoring going on, Roy Oswalt was excellent. Oswalt finished with six shut out innings, allowed three hits and one walk. He struck out four and 94 several times on the radar gun. It was vintage Oswalt in his final tune up before the playoffs.  The one worrisome part for the Phillies in September has been Antonio Bastardo.  Bastardo was excellent last night, throwing a shut out inning. Martin Prado would add a meaningless run on a solo home run in the ninth off of Kyle Kendrick.


Utley hit the ball well, Oswalt looked healthy, Bastardo looked good, Perfect game in my eyes.

Charlie Manuel caught Gene Mauch in about 200 fewer games. Is Charlie the best manager in baseball? Absolutely not. However, he fits this team well and they’ve rewarded him handsomely. Job well done Charlie.

I bet Charlie plays Hunter Pence the whole game tonight to give him a chance at 100 RBIs.

I wouldn’t lay down, but I’d give the starters one or two at bats and then fill in with the Iron Pigs lineup.

My prediction for today’s games….Braves win, Cardinals lose. Rays and Red Sox win to set up a one game playoff for the AL Wildcard.

What was everyone worrying about?