Posts Tagged ‘St. Louis Cardinals’

Valentine’s Day for Baseball Lovers – Pro Tips from the First MLB Fan Cave Couple

February 16, 2013

Cardinals are red,

Dodgers are blue,

When you both love baseball on VDay,

What do you do?  ❤

It’s Valentine’s Day, you and your significant other are huge baseball fans, and you have no idea how to celebrate. Sure, it might be the offseason…Going to a game is your go-to gift strategy, but never fear! The First Fan Cave Couple has some ideas for you!

Here are some V-Day gifts for baseball lovers from Kelsey and I:

1. Kelsey – Classic Valentines: MLB Style

You know those valentines you had to buy every one of your classmates as a kid? Why not send a whole box to your significant other? Better yet…why not buy the MLB pack (it exists!), and write a fun note on every single one. Or sign them from your favorite All-Stars. To go the extra mile, decorate the box in which you put them and voilà!

Cost: $

2. Jeremy – Fancy Feast: Not the Cat Food

No, not the cat food…unless you actually hate your partner. If he or she really loves baseball, then all they want for dinner on V-Day is a pile of cheap hot dogs, nachos and beer. Create a whole smorgasbord of ballpark favorites. Fast, easy and delicious! Show off those cooking skills!

Cost: $$

3. Kelsey – Two Words: “Spring Training”

Baseball may not be in your hometown, but if you’re lucky enough to have the moolah, you can head on down to Arizona or Florida to your favorite team’s camp. Spring Training is definitely an experience every baseball fan should have. The proximity to the players and to the game is unparalleled, and it definitely tides you over till Opening Day. Now, if you and your partner’s teams happen to be in separate states like our Cardinals and Dodgers…then things might get complicated. Flip a coin?

Cost: $$$

4. Jeremy – Chocolates: A là Bambino

Girls. Love. Chocolate. Well, so do guys. But ignore the cliché stares from the other men checking out at the grocery store and come home with some delicious chocolate for your girl. If you’re as lucky as me, your girlfriend will also root for a team that wears red, so the box color adds a nice touch. And there are plenty of baseball-themed options. Try those little baseball chocolates that come in goodie bags at birthday parties, or some appropriately named “Baby Ruths.” Grab a bouquet of flowers and you’re set!

Cost: $

5. Kelsey – Always a Favorite: Baseball Movie Marathon

You may not have the means to travel to baseball, but you can bring baseball to yourself on the big screen! You could even set up a projector outside to feel more like a part of the film. There are so many classic baseball movies…A League of Their Own and The Sandlot are two of my favorites. But I might suggest Moneyball. After all, “How can you not be romantic about baseball?”

Cost: $

6. Jeremy – The Ultimate: A Baseball “Fan Love” Package

It’s not as dirty as it sounds. I totally made this up, and I wish I had actually thought of it before today so Kelsey could get one, herself. A glove, a baseball-loving teddy bear, and a new hat of her favorite team on top says it all. I don’t care if your girlfriend can throw the ball a mile or couldn’t catch a beach ball if it was handed to her – this gift would still rock. Boom. Done. Home run.

Cost: $$

Valentines

For more fun couples tips, blog posts, and videos, make sure Kelsey and I get into the MLB Fan Cave! We have tons of ideas and we can’t wait to share them with you on a national stage.

Watch our video explaining how we got together.

Follow us on Twitter @kelseyshea11 and @jamblinman.

And like our Facebook pages: KelseyJeremy.

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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

Albert Whojols?

May 12, 2012

The Jam Shot du jour is all about Albert. I figured it was only appropriate, given that I left St. Louis three days ago and am now a mere 300 miles away from Los Angeles. Westward we go!

Sure, I’m making the same trek Pujols made in the offseason, only I’m not being paid as much to do it. And I’m probably more valuable sitting in my boxers in a sketchy Arizona hotel than Albert has been to his new team.

As of his first at-bat in today’s game, Pujols is hitting .191 on the season. Meanwhile, back in St. Louis, the 1st-place Cardinals are reaping the benefits of one Carlos Beltran, Pujols’ replacement.

Not only does Beltran have 12 home runs (including three games in which he’s hit two – double Albert’s total for the whole season), but he’s presenting a legitimate challenge to Matt Kemp for NL MVP.

So is Pujols toast? Sure, other sluggers are also struggling right now (Jose Bautista, where have you gone?!). But none have the talent, aura, nor quantity of offseason headlines like number five does.

That being said, slumps happen. Even very, very terrible ones at incredibly inopportune times. And Albert Pujols is a future Hall of Famer for a reason.

While I won’t maintain my pre-season prediction that the Angels would win the West, I do think the Angels are a playoff team.

And I really do believe Pujols will hit 30 homers and drive in 100 runs. He will probably hit .320 also, because that’s what he does.

This is a testament to how good a hitter Pujols really is. He has been mashing the ball for a big chunk of the year, just right at people. Once he gets comfortable, watch out world.

Our dear old friend Albert will be back in full force and he’s not going to be gentle. Don’t get too cozy, Rangers fans.

When that bat comes alive and your division lead is suddenly in question, I’ll be somewhere in a shitty hotel in my boxers saying I told ya so.

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

Busch, Bryce and Beer Pong

April 28, 2012

I just got back from my first trip ever to Busch Stadium, courtesy of my lovely girlfriend (@KelseyShea11). The Cardinals pulled out a 7-3 win over the rival Milwaukee Brewers in a day filled with home runs, sunshine and lots of Game 6 replays.

St. Louis is doing a good job trying to prove to me why it’s known as Baseball Heaven. The fans clearly are in LOVE with their Cardinals, and the stadium and atmosphere were really fantastic. One of the better ones I’ve been to. It didn’t hurt that we sat 14 rows behind the first base line, just off from the home team’s dugout.

Kelsey’s boy Yadi Molina went 4-for-4 with a two-run homer, and David Freese hit a solo shot on his birthday. One of my favorite things on the day was seeing Molina get his Gold Glove award presented to him before the game started. There is no better defensive catcher in baseball right now.

Speaking of baseball, there’s a tiny little story developing in Los Angeles. It’s just this little, baby, teensy-weensy story about some dude named Bryce Harper making his Major League debut for the Washington Nationals against my Dodgers tonight. How will he fare? I don’t know.

But I hope, as a Dodger fan and hater of douchebags (yes, Harper is one), that he goes 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, and misses so badly on one of them that he falls to his ass in the batter’s box. That’s what he gets for rooting for (yes, this is true…Google it) the Yankees, Lakers, Cowboys and Duke. *RAGE*

Thanks for reading…now leave me alone, I have to beat Kelsey’s family at beer pong with her. Ciao.

Don’t forget to 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!

Word Association

April 18, 2012

Let’s play word association. I’ll type a word, and then say what first comes to my mind. Yeah, that’s right. You don’t get to play. Sucker.

BASEBALL –> Dodgers.

ORLANDO (FL) –> Magic. Johnson. Dodgers.

DISNEY (WORLD) –> Magic. Johnson. Dodgers.

MONEY –> Magic Johnson. Dodgers.

RAINBOW –> Double. Red. Orange. Yellow. Green. Indigo. Blue. Dodgers.

CAR –> Drive. Swing and a drive. Home run. Matt Kemp. Dodgers.

PODCAST –> Three Up, Three Down. Rules. Baseball. Dodgers.

T-SHIRT –> Collared. Jersey. James Loney. Dodgers.

BEER –> Budweiser. Dos Equis. Ball park. Dodger Stadium. Dodgers.

CRAZY –> Horse. What? Me. Loves. Dodgers.

SUN –> Shine. Florida. Spring Training. Dodgers.

EFFERVESCENT –> Kelsey Shea. Cardinals. Inferior. To the Dodgers.

And now you see why my life revolves around baseball. There isn’t one damn thing you can say that won’t end with me thinking about my favorite team. Until tomorrow, enjoy eating the Dodgers’ dust, other teams!

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @Jamblinman!

Tonight’s Forecast…A Freeeeeeeese!

April 8, 2012

So…this Freese guy. Goes by David. Plays for the Cardinals? Big hit in the World Series? A few of them actually? Still confused? Get the hell out of my blog then.

I couldn’t decide if he was a one-hit (no pun intended because it doesn’t make statistical sense) wonder, because hot streaks are common in baseball. Now he’s busted out of the gates in 2012, hitting just under .500 through the first four games. 

Ruh-roh. All my skepticism, gone. PUBLIC skepticism on podcasts, in blogs, in conversation all pointing towards my belief that it might have been a fluke. 

All the while, ignoring my girlfriend’s (diehard Cardinals fan) desperate plea: DAVID FREESE IS GOOD. YOU WATCH.

And as much fun as I’ve had telling her that I’ll only be impressed if he goes 5-for-5, I’m starting to crack. How can I hate on a guy who plays so hard, hustles so long, and is that damn clutch? The fact is, I can’t.

But the question remains: Is he legit? Is David Freese the real deal? I don’t know. Four official games does not an MVP make, but I am starting to enjoy watching him play. He plays in the same fashion that I modeled my game after in high school. Good defense, timely hitting and lots of hard work. 

Okay, so he’s a hell of a lot better. But, still…

This season will be a great measuring stick for last postseason’s mystery man. Talk to me in a couple months, and if he’s still a catalyst in that St. Louis lineup, I will consider. CONSIDER. Saying that tonight’s forecast is, in fact, a Freese.

Until tomorrow, don’t forget to keep your eye on the ball!

Season Ticket Saturday!

April 7, 2012

I had a mini fantasy baseball catastrophe today. Forgot to start Miguel Cabrera (he of two home runs). Bummer. But I’ve been watching the Giants lose and drop to 0-2, so I feel better.

Today is all about Season Ticket! If you don’t already like the Facebook page, get on it! If you don’t already follow us on Twitter, get on it! If you haven’t checked out our video plea to Ellen DeGeneres…GET ON IT! We’re about three weeks away from starting this epic adventure and could use all the support we can get.

For those of you who have ignored my bombardment of links to this point, here’s a quick rundown:

The name of the project is Season Ticket: The Ultimate Baseball Project – 30 Parks, 1 Summer. We are road tripping across the United States starting at the end of this month in the home of the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals, and ending in the new Miami Marlins’ stadium just before October.

Along the way, we’ll see one game at every stadium, all the while blogging, podcasting, vlogging, Tweeting and Facebooking our adventures. But this isn’t just a glorified summer vacation. My girlfriend and travel partner, Kelsey Shea and I are both serious writers trying to get our work out there.

Still, that’s not enough is it? That’s why our ultimate goal with the trip is to determine the best baseball experience in America! Is it better to catch a game in San Francisco or Los Angeles? Detroit or Chicago? New York or Boston? That is exactly what we are out to determine.

We want people to follow the journey, get involved (we’ll be posting trivia questions and such along the way to keep everyone interested!), and help vote their city and team to the top of the rankings!

This is a project that has no competition; we’re the only people doing it. We just need a little financial help. We’re doing a side project with BleacherReport.com, hopefully making revenue off our YouTube channel (subscribe, please!!!), and using some of our own funds. But we still need more.

So reach out to any baseball-happy, charity-friendly people you know and tell them about our project. We have three weeks to make a little moola to assure this dream trip happens! We have an IndieGoGo account if you’re feeling extra generous.

Baseball all summer? In person? Yes please.

Wednesday Top Ten!

March 7, 2012

Like how I throw that title up there as if this is a regular thing? I’m not going to lie…it’s because I’m wholly unmotivated to be creative today. Instead, I’ll just blow you away with insight and analysis. So ladies and gentlemen, put on your best snuggies and let’s get rollin’.

Today’s top ten will be all about baseball. Because it’s the best sport. Feel free to argue with me on that point, just don’t complain when this happens. You’ve been warned.

I want to discuss the ten best pitchers in baseball. There’s a helluva lot of them. The San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies could probably make a top ten list by themselves. But we’re going to do it anyway. I’m feelin’ crazy. By the way, I’m a Dodgers fan. So you can guess who number one will be. Muahaha!

10. Dan Haren, Los Angeles Angels – Oh boy that rotation in Anaheim is going to be scary in 2012, ain’t it? Haren is the best of the bunch, and the first pitcher on the list who doesn’t have a Cy Young to his name. He should, he could and he might before his time is done, but time will tell. Six seasons of 14 + wins ain’t too shabby though.

9. Chris Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals – Okay, really? If Carp is ninth on this list, you know it’s gonna rock your socks off. This big righty has dominated for the Cards and has two rings and a shiny Cy Young (2005) to show for it. He’s got one of the best curveballs in the game and is possibly the most dominant postseason pitcher on this entire list.

8. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners – It’s tough to NOT feel bad for King Felix. Stuck on the Mariners his whole career, he hasn’t racked up huge numbers. Just imagine what the 2010 Cy Young winner’s numbers would look like on a team that could actually score runs.

7. Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants – How can a two-time Cy Young winner (2008-2009) only be eighth on this list? Easy – he’s on the Giants and he went to University of Washington and I’m a spiteful, Dodger and Washington State-lovin’ bastard. So that says something that I felt compelled to still include The Freak on this list at all.

6. Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies – Hamels is the first of a trio of Phillies to appear on my list (how is that even fair?) and the second who doesn’t have a Cy to his name. Yet. He’s still got plenty of time. What Hamels does have is a mean fastball, some filthy control and a World Series MVP. Not too shabby.

5. Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies – Hamels’ southpawtner in crime DOES have that Cy Young award (2008) but less postseason success. Lee dominated last year, going a cool 17-8 with a 2.40 ERA for Philly. And his awesome birth name (Clifton Phifer Lee) boosted him at least three spots alone.

4. C.C. Sabathia, New York Yankees – The lefties just keep on comin’. I have a special appreciation for Sabathia, because he hails from the Bay Area like me. That’s not the end of our similarities though. I’m ALSO a 6’7″, 290-pound black man with a Cy Young (2007) and World Series ring…By the way, C.C. has 176 wins at age 31. Don’t tell me 300 isn’t viable for him.

3. Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies – Finally, the Philadelphia onslaught comes to a merciful end. But there is no doubt in my mind that Doc Halladay is the best of the bunch. The 8-time all-star and 2-time Cy Young winner (2003 and 2010) has been so dominant for so long that it’s just a foregone conclusion he’ll put up 15+ wins every season. Oh, did I mention that no-hitter in the playoffs? That’s impressive I guess.

2. Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers – Last year’s Cy Young and MVP winner in the American League has finally reached the height of his potential. And I don’t think he’s planning on regressing anytime soon. Verlander’s 24-5, 2.40, 250 strikeout 2011 was far and away one of the best individual pitching seasons I’ve ever seen. And the scary thing is he’s only 28.

1. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers – You want to talk about incredible seasons at a young age? How about the next coming of Sandy Koufax (I think I just heard you gasp from here…)? Kershaw cruised to the pitching Triple Crown in the National League last year, and won the Cy Young as a result. Here’s the thing though. Kershaw is 23 years old. Like, my age. What the HELL!

That’s my list. Thanks for helping me kill time. Comment below and tell me why I’m absolutely right-on with all my picks. Or if you must, disagree and make suggestions. I’ll probably ignore you, but hey, it’s worth a shot!

And I ammmmmmm outta here!

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!


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