Posts Tagged ‘Atlanta Braves’

Case for A.J. Ellis

May 20, 2012

I’ll admit it (raises hand shamefully). I was NOT on the A.J. Ellis bandwagon when the season started. I figured he was the ultimate, lifetime backup catcher and that his pleas for playing time was a bunch of malarkey (I actually used to know someone with the last name Mularkey, so that word always weirds me out).

Watching Spring Training, I’d rue the day we ever set Russell Martin free to the Yankees. And then the 2012 regular season rolled around.

Did anyone in their right minds have A.J. Ellis as one of the best all-around catchers in baseball? If you said “Yes” just now, you are an evil and a heathen and you shall burn in Hellllllllsinki.

Yikes, that was harsh. I hear it’s cold there.

Anyway, as of the day this post is published (I say it that way, because technically I’m FINISHING it on Tuesday, May 22nd. Shhhhhh. But it’s posted as May 20th. Shut up.), Ellis is hitting .321 with a .446 on-base percentage.

Those numbers are good for third and first, respectively, among a loaded class of National League catchers. And the OBP isn’t even remotely close. We Dodger fans have gotten used to Ellis getting on base, one way or another. And he’s a major reason why we are holding the best record in baseball.

Having your number seven hitter getting on base nearly half the time he comes to the plate is an invaluable tool to a successful lineup. It’s a luxury most teams can’t claim, and never will. And despite the gaudy offensive numbers, and the fact that he has almost flawlessly handled the second-best pitching staff in the Majors…nobody knows who the hell A.J. is.

And we’ve all seen it a million times; that’s going to extend to the All-Star voting. With names like Yadier Molina, Brian McCann and Buster Posey, along with breakout seasons from Carlos Ruiz and Jonathan Lucroy, finding a spot on the National League team would be tough for Ellis.

But he absolutely deserves to go. And not in the “please let him in, he’s such a nice guy and he really wants it” type of way. He has played his way into a backup role on that team, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better role player to have on a squad that determines home-field advantage for the World Series.

I’ll tell you what – as a Dodger fan, with my team now a legitimate postseason threat, I feel a hell of a lot more comfortable with Ellis pinch-hitting in the eighth inning of a tie game in the All-Star Game with that home-field advantage on the line than McCann of the Braves and his .254 average.

But history and popularity says, McCann will be in Kansas City in July. Ellis will be at home, enjoying his days off.

Here’s my take on it:

Based on all-around game, Molina is the hands-down starter for the National League. He’s a four-time Gold Glover and now the best hitting catcher in the league (apologies to Ruiz, who is having a great season, but everyone outside of Philly knows this won’t last). McCann and Posey are the big names who should be left out because, though they are having solid seasons, have not been as good all-around as the other four. If three catchers go to the All-Star Game on the N.L. roster, I’m left with Molina, backed up by Ruiz, then Ellis.

If it’s two, I’m torn. Props to Lucroy for stepping up this season, but your 7-RBI game skews the power stats a bit. And you can’t handle the glove as well as my man A.J. While I’d love to see Ruiz earn that All-Star bid, how are you going to ignore a guy who has such a high OBP?

While it’s an unloved stat still, getting on base is the most important part of an offense. Here’s a simple formula for all you math duds out there like me: get on base, move to the next base, score more runs than the other team. That’s the basic idea behind baseball, and nobody is doing it better this year than Ellis.

I know this is a big ol’ waste of time, considering it’s going to be Molina, McCann and Posey in the All-Star Game. But these things must be blogged about, even if just so my poor little head doesn’t explode all over my laptop’s screen.

Just keep the numbers in mind when voting, and cast your vote for the Dodgers’ A.J. Ellis for the 2012 All-Star Game! Our team’s World Series home field depends on it!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @Jamblinman

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Wrigley and Wrivalries

May 7, 2012

Like that impressive spelling? Let’s just call it klever. So this weekend I was in Chicago (that’s why Jam Shots took Saturday and Sunday off). Among bars, pizza, sightseeing and all that jazz, I went to the Dodgers vs. Cubs game at Wrigley Field.

This was a milestone for me. First of all, it was the tenth ball park I’ve visited. That puts me in double digits! Just 20 more to go. Besides Wrigley Field, I’ve gone to games in Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, New York (Yankees), Boston, Tampa Bay and St. Louis.

And let me tell you, Wrigley was one of the best so far. It’s a classic stadium with wide open seating, and one of the better post-game atmospheres. I guess if you’ve lost for 103 and a half years (and counting), every day better be a party.

Way to be optimistic, Cubs fans. Anyway, the game was absolutely fantastic, especially because the Dodgers won 5-1. There isn’t a ton to see at the actual stadium, but the bleacher boys in left field sure put on a drinking show, and I felt like I was sitting in a ball park for a game in the 1950’s.

And yes, the ivy is exceptionally luscious.

Now on to a little more baseball news. I hear there were a couple little tiffs? I’ll give my take on the two young guys and the two old guys feuding and who is in the wrong.

So apparently Chipper Jones, he of the 2012 victory lap, and 49-year-0ld Colorado staff ace Jamie Moyer (now that Jeremy Guthrie went down) are upset at each other. Apparently, Chipper cheated at shuffleboard the other day and Jamie is not happy about it.

Or something to that effect. More like Chipper was accused of stealing signs by Moyer. Well, I hate to break it to the old(er) man, but that’s part of the game. It’s not like he was in center field with binoculars, picking off the catcher’s signals. This is something everyone tries to do, and rarely succeeds at. When the runner IS successful, it’s often the catcher’s fault.Winner: Chipper

And then there are a couple of guys who don’t even combine to equal Moyer’s age. Cole Hamels beaned teen phenom Bryce Harper the other day, and then admitted he did it on purpose. He said it was “old school” and welcomed the rook to the bigs. Hamels wins this argument (five-game suspension resulting be damned) for multiple reasons.

First of all, he’s right. It IS old school. When a young kid like Harper comes up and displays over-swaggage, he is taught a lesson by opposing pitchers. Bud Selig is a huge, wet, sopping…nevermind. Because a five-game suspension hardly affects a starting pitcher. But suspending him anyway was just stupid. Two decades ago, it was accepted. No. Expected, for Harper to get beaned. I’m surprised it took that long. Winner: Hamels

Thanks for reading, and tune in again tomorrow! Follow me on Twitter @Jamblinman.

 

 

1st-Place Teams So Far

April 20, 2012

Well, folks…we’re 13 games into the 2012 regular season. If you didn’t notice, some crazy things are happening. For example, the Orioles are doing it again – leading the AL East early. And there’s anarchy in L.A. – The Dodgers are in first by three games and the Angels…well, the Angels are paying Albert Pujols nine figures; one for each loss.

There are six divisions, so six first place teams, so six things for me to talk about:

AL East:

Really? The Baltimore Orioles? One of four teams I figured would have a legitimate shot at losing 95 games this year?

I know what you’re thinking. Is it for real? Well, put simply, no. Expect this division to be flipped by next month. It’s just one of those random hot streaks paired with some poor play by division favorites. Four of the five teams are within 1.5 games already, and the Red Sox being in dead last will change soon.

The A.L. East will still finish Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles.

AL Central:

Detroit Tigers…obviously, bro. They haven’t disappointed, coming out of the gates hot and laying the smack down on the Red Sox to open the season.

One team I’m disappointed with so far is the Kansas City Royals. I am very bromantic about guys like Billy Butler, Eric Hosmer and Luke Hochevar. I’m not too worried about the Royals climbing back into contention, but will it be too late?

The Tigers are leading the Central and that won’t change anytime soon. The order will be: Tigers, Royals, Indians, Twins, White Sox.

AL West:

The Rangers are 11-2, have a 4.5 game lead in the division and the best record in baseball. Where have we seen this story before? Texas might be even better than the last two seasons. That’s terrifying.

The A’s and Mariners are both 7-7 and have played each other about 14 times in 2012. Or so it seems. How about the poor A’s having to face Felix Hernandez THRICE already? Ouch. Am I worried about the Angels? No, but thanks for asking. Let them figure it out and talk to me in a month when they are alone in second place, hot on the Rangers trail.

Despite how incredible Bartolo Colon is, the A’s are still a last-place team. They could lose 100 games. So, the division order will still be Angels, Rangers, Mariners, A’s.

NL East:

Told ya so, told ya so, told ya so, told ya so, told ya so, told ya so, told ya so, told ya so, told ya so, told ya so, TOLD YA SO. Suck it. The Nationals are in first place with a 10-4 record. And Mike Morse hasn’t even played one game yet.

You have to love seeing the Phillies in last place, a game under .500, despite the ridiculous pitching staff. They are really hurting for offense. When are Ryan Howard and Chase Utley coming back again? The Braves have bounced back impressively from an opening weekend sweep at the hands of the Mets. Speaking of the other New York team, they have started to fall back down to Earth a little bit.

Expect the result to stick: Nationals in first, then Philly, Miami, Atlanta, and New York.

NL Central:

Isn’t it cliche these days to say the Cardinals are in first? Well the word “cliche” makes me feel fancy. And I like that. So, the Cardinals are in first. Again.

They have a three-game lead and have by far looked like the most complete team in the division. I still think it’s going to be Cincinnati at the end, but the more I see Milwaukee and Pittsburgh play, the less impressed I’ve been. Ryan Braun just went 0-12 with a ton of strikeouts in three games against the Dodgers. But one guy who IS having success if Carlos Beltran in St. Louis. He has five more home runs than Albert Pujols in L.A. Oh, and Beltran has five homers total. Sooo…do the math.

This division will eventually be: Reds, Cardinals, Brewers, Pirates, Cubs, Astros

NL West:

*Coughs*. *Makes throat sounds suggesting “hey look at this”*. *Winks*. Allllll that nonsense can only mean one thing. My Los Angeles Dodgers are sitting pretty atop the NL West. And it feels so good.

Is it real? Well, biases aside…this is one of the greatest rosters ever assembled in any sport in the history of the universe. And yes, they can continue this success into the postseason. It’s not just Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw this season. In fact, Kershaw hasn’t even gotten warmed up yet. But Andre Ethier is raking, Juan Rivera is driving in runs like nobody’s business, and the rest of the rotation has done wonders. Oh, right. There are four other teams in the West. But…whatever.

The only division I’ll change my order in: Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Giants, Rockies, Padres

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @Jamblinman!

Happy Jackie Robinson Day!

April 15, 2012

Ugh. What I would give for one of those “42” jerseys. Needless to say, Jackie Robinson is one of the most important people in the history of…well…anything. But especially baseball.

I’ve been watching baseball all day (I know, rough life), and I was thinking how we would not be seeing certain things today if not for Robinson breaking the color barrier.

Here’s a few of those things:

Matt Kemp might not have slugged his SIXTH home run of the young 2012 season.

Adam Jones might not have continued his rise to stardom with another long ball.

Jimmy Rollins might not have gotten two hits, an RBI and a stolen base.

Dee Gordon might not have hit a walk-off single.

Jason Heyward might not have continued his resurgence with a solo homer.

Prince Fielder might not have raised his average to .353.

Chris Young might not have had three hits, a homer and a stolen base.

And then today would have been really, really boring. Happy Jackie Robinson Day, and don’t forget why some of your favorite players are in the game today.

Follow me on Twitter @Jamblinman

Let’s Play A Game

March 22, 2012

Thank you to Jillian Clark for reminding me today about all my different rage-isms.

I’ve recently discovered internet rage is a flaw of mine. Very similar to something else I have (road rage), it means when someone does something stupid online or the web page is loading too slowly, I feel a sudden burning urge to:

a. Punch a hole through my computer screen

b. Punt the nearest baby or puppy (I only have one of those, and she is really good at fetch so I don’t want her getting hurt)

c. Post an angry comment on some online forum that I’ll never look at again but that will significantly decrease my stress levels

I also have walking rage. So, if you’re walking down the sidewalk, especially in a group, please observe normal humans doing it first so I don’t have to twist and turn like a goddamn Gumby doll to get by you. Assholes.

So now you know. After an exceptionally long intro, let’s focus on that internet rage. We’re going to play a game. Mostly using Yahoo! as my source, we’re going to find all the stupid shit that pisses me off and make a list of things that are falsely portrayed as news. Then we’ll compare it against things that do matter. Why? Because it’ll make me feel better.

NOT NEWS:

1. There was a name mix-up in Diamondbacks camp? How cute! In more important news, that blister on my toe finally popped. This is exactly why people don’t take Yahoo! Sports seriously – 90 percent of their stories are fluff like this.

2. Someone really hates Peyton Manning. Another gem from Yahoo! It’s unique, it’s a little bit morbidly funny, but I don’t know who the dead guy is. I don’t care. Another two minutes of my life wasted.

3. This one makes me want to set a garbage can on fire. So a hot chick has a boyfriend, but Tim Tebow thinks she’s purty and wants her to know that. But oh no, so does Mr. Hockey Player guy on Twitter, even though he was clearly joking! You know what this means…DRAMA! LOVE TRIANGLE! SCANDAL! Shut the hell up.

4. Please don’t make me explain why this is a waste of the good ol’ World Wide Web…

5. And the grand daddy of them all. The one that pissed me off so much that I decided to boycott Yahoo forever. I’m currently in the process of moving over to Gmail. Why? Because this was the LEAD story on Yahoo! a couple of days ago. It was ahead of my #1 for what IS news (see below…and try not to rage at the fact that it was buried underneath Beyonce’s stupid baby bump).

WHAT IS NEWS:

1. This isn’t the Yahoo! story, but it’s very similar. I tweeted out about my personal boycott (I’m sure all 75 followers were very impressed…), but maybe it did make a difference. Because no less than five minutes later, the stories were switched. Sierra Lamar was in the lead, and Beyonce’s belly was not. All was right with the world. But I’m still holding this grudge. Also, this is unbelievably sad – let’s not forget about what really matters.

2. Roger Goodell actually does something right! Normally, that wouldn’t be a story. But paying professional athletes to purposely hurt other professional athletes is not only disgusting and immoral, but sets a turrible example for any aspiring young football player. I’ve been vehemently in favor of harsh punishment of the New Orleans Saints over the “bounty” system that was in place under former coordinator Gregg Williams. Goodell really put the hammer down on the organization, and it’s a huge step in the right direction for the NFL.

3. Wow, this is just incredible. A player collapsing from cardiac arrest on a soccer pitch is a fantastic story, and something that should open up the eyes of everyone in sports. This player is my age and nearly died from a freak heart flaw in the middle of a match, if not for the heroic efforts of the medical staff. The prices we pay for the games we love are crazy.

4. The Million Hoodie March is something I can definitely get behind. If you haven’t heard Trayvon Martin’s tragic tale, Google that immediately. There are many, many layers of further importance buried within this story, from race issues to gun laws. It’s one of those things that just makes me question everything about the country I live in and its policies. Nobody deserves to die the way Martin did.

5. Another star of the 90s is going to retire. And it hurts my heart. Chipper will always be one of those guys I grew up admiring and modeling my game after. Atlanta Braves fans should feel lucky to have had such a stellar player on their team for so many years. I hope he has a fantastic final year and goes out with a bang.

There you have it – now you know. Unless you want angry Jamblinman, you stop supporting the bogus news stories listed above. Start paying attention to the things that matter, whether they are in the sports world or the real world. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time.

Three Up, Three Down Premieres Tonight!

March 4, 2012

Hello fellow baseball lovers! Today is a big day! Because later this evening, myself and five other MLB Fan Cave candidates who didn’t quite make the cut are recording our inaugural podcast episode of Three Up, Three Down!

Each one of us represents one of the divisions. I’m a Dodger fan, so I’ll be the NL West extraordinaire. And my lovely co-hosts will be:

Kurt Peter (affectionately known as KP) – Brewers/NL Central

Bryan Mapes (surname only, please) – Braves/NL East

Brian Boynton (responds to Brian and RangerfanBrian) – Rangers/AL West

Angelo Fileccia (or Godfather, if you will) – Tigers/AL Central

Abby Mollenhauer (AbbyMo we want some Mo we want some Mo!) – Yankees/AL East

And while we won’t have Denzel as a guest quite yet, I’m not going to completely shut out that possibility. Because when you put six motivated, knowledgeable and passionate baseball fans into one podcast all about America’s pasttime…impossible is nothing.

Our podcast is going to be epic, there is no question about that. And tonight will be the first step towards glory – just stay tuned for updates on where you can listen to it. And when you become mesmerized by our collective genius, put 3u3d on your calendar for every week.

The basic format, as it stands now, is that we will each take time to discuss the biggest stories from our respective divisions. Then the entire group will jump into a more general baseball discussion. And don’t worry, the Three Up, Three Down moniker has a purpose (and an awesome logo, being revealed soon). We will also work in a segment with three hot hitters/three cold hitters, three fantasy pick ups/three fantasy drops, etc.

For now, you can take my word that this podcast is going to rock. And what can you do, other than tune in and listen? How about following @3u3d on Twitter to get all the updates you’ll ever need? Or maybe like the 3u3d Facebook page!

And did you notice how I linked in the six hosts’ Twitter handles up there? Now would be a good time to click, follow and love us. Baseball season is in full swing (puns aplenty, just wait until we’re on the airwaves), and with it comes a gritty, funny, informative podcast about the sport we all love.

I’m excited. You should be too. Remember to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook and to LISTEN to the first episode, set to debut for your auditory pleasure in the next 48 hours.

National Treasure

March 1, 2012

I hate myself for that title. Cool movie, but anything with Nicolas Cage in it is going to piss me off. Anyway, it has nothing to do with the actual film. This is more a matter of sports, as a post of mine should be. If you missed it, I’ve already locked in my predictions for the 2012 Major League Baseball season. This isn’t what I think will happen, this IS what will happen. Wait and see.

My boldest prediction is that the annual N.L. East doormats in D.C. are going to win the division this year, after getting healthy and stacking their rotation with the likes of Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson this winter. Call me crazy, but they are the overall most talented team in the division. Yes, better than the new-look Miami Marlins, the powerhouse Phillies and the consistent Atlanta Braves.

You’ve got to love this offense – young guys at shortstop, second base and catcher that can absolutely rake. They’ve got Michael Morse and Ryan Zimmerman to beef up the middle of the order, and potential game-changing guys in AAA in Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon. And if Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche or Rick Ankiel put it together for a full season…watch out.

So the news today is this: Nationals manager Davey Johnson says ‘Fire me’ if Washington misses the playoffs. And I love it.

Swag is a good thing. You want your players to have confidence on the diamond, why not the guy directing them? And why not say it? First of all, Davey Johnson isn’t getting fired no matter what happens. So it’s an empty offer. But secondly, this team has a legitimate chance to contend.

The fact that these young Nationals are so set on making the playoffs and their manager is so confident in their abilities is setting the table for a special season in the nation’s capital, methinks. Looking at the National League, I see nine serious contenders: Arizona, San Francisco, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Philly, Miami, Atlanta and Washington.

By a mile, the Nats would be the biggest surprise team out of those nine to make the playoffs. But beating four of them should be very do-able for such a talented roster. Their pitching is as good or better than the D’Backs, Reds and Marlins. And their offense definitely matches up or dominates teams like the Giants, Phillies and Brewers.

All I’m saying is this team has the makings of something special in 2012. I think people underestimate how good their rotation will be with Stephen Strasburg, Gonzalez, Jackson, Jordan Zimmerman and John Lannan. It’s going to be young and they will have their struggles, but if the Nats aren’t at LEAST in Wild Card contention in the last week of the season, I will be shocked.

And apparently, so will Davey Johnson. Long live the dark horse!

And the Freak Gets Freakier

February 7, 2012

Let’s get this out of the way. Congrats, dude. Now hopefully we are done talking football for quite some time. The most mundane ending to a season in the history of the world has occurred, and what a shame if 2012 is actually the last year we all exist. The 49ers are so damn close to the Promised Land!

Anyway, back to the greatest sport in the world, since that’s all anyone really cares about in the sports world between February and October. I’ve got a strange inkling that Tim Lincecum is either awkwardly obese under an extra baggy jersey or might possibly be near death from lack of consumption.

I know those are two extremes, but according to reports, the Freak shed 22 pounds this offseason. Even more troubling, he claims to have been near 200 last season. Um. No chance. WHERE DID THOSE POUNDS DROP FROM? His hair? Among other nicknames, he’s been hailed as “Tiny Tim” for a reason. He’s not a big guy, but he brings a big fastball and some filthy off-speed stuff. He’s incredibly skinny, like the gawky skater kid who always wore a black hoodie in high school and never had his headphones actually off his ears, regardless of whether or not music was playing.

But I guess Lincecum had poundage to lose. And he did, by cutting out McDonald’s (is that even a sacrifice unless you’re painfully hungover?) completely and In-N-Out partially. I can understand losing Mickey D’s, but he’s insane to drop In-N-Out. That is the best, creamy goodness-in-burger ever made. Props to Timmy for making it happen, and time will tell if he will benefit from being that skinny. I know it gets windy by the Bay, so he might need some heavy cleats to keep him on the actual field when he’s pitching.

And hundreds of years later, white people decided to finally do the Native Americans a solid. I’m not sure if this quite makes up for everything, but let’s just let bygones be bygones and rip the unbelievably racist, ghastly savage patches off the Atlanta Braves’ new weekend alternate uniforms.

That is one of the ugliest logos I’ve seen in sports…ever. And on top of that, it’s blatantly offensive. Major League Baseball and the Braves made a very keen decision. For once. Honestly, I am one to side with Native Americans on issues over sports teams using likenesses as logos and mascots and what not, but usually I’m soft on it overall. I don’t think the Indians’ Chief Wahoo is troubling (in fact, he looks quite happy), but that creepy one on the Braves’ uni definitely had to go.

I leave you with a stern message today, kids. Don’t text and drive. Yeah, he wasn’t even close to making that turn. Oops, sorry about your car, Dad.

And of course, drum roll please…the Tuesday Tweet of the Day! Yayyyy! Any Kobe doubters still out there? Bueller? Bueller? Didn’t think so.

I’m gonna go take some cuts in the cage. I’m using Tim Lincecum as my bat. Hah, get it? Okay bye.


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