Posts Tagged ‘World Series’

How I Became the World’s Biggest Cardinals Fan Overnight

October 19, 2012

It’s not what you think. Nobody actually convinced me to join the Cardinal-colored dark side. I’m not a front-runner, fair weather fan, nor did I only title this blog to score points with my girlfriend, who sees the world through red, white and navy blue lenses.

But the second Sergio Romo struck out Scott Rolen looking in Game 5 of the NLDS to send the Giants to the next round, I knew it would be a toss-up between the Cardinals and Nationals for my undying fandom this week.

When the Cards pulled another rabbit out of their hats in the 9th inning of Game 5 of their series to advance, it was confirmed: Jeremy Dorn, the most devoted Dodgers fan in the world, was briefly going to trade alliegences. That’s what you do in a rivalry; you root for your team until your lungs bleed, and when they are eliminated, you do the same for any team playing against your rival. Only when your rival’s season end, does the fan settle down, relaxed and waiting for another shot next year.

See, in case you didn’t learn anything in school, the Giants and Dodgers are the sports world’s greatest rivalry. Ever. It’s not even close. Sure, the Red Sox and Yankees get the most publicity and Duke versus North Carolina is an annual battle of the beasts…but no rivalry in a professional American sport comes close to matching the clout of Dodgers/Giants.

The two teams first met in 1883, and have since played  over 2,300 games directly against each other. The Giants have a slight edge, about 20 more wins total against the Dodgers. Both teams have won 21 National League pennants and six World Series titles.

And I don’t even need to go into the on-field, off-field and cross-team hatred and violence that has sprung out of this rivalry.

I’m not condoning any violence that has taken place, whether a fight between fans, a bat to the head during a game, or flinging insults at each other through the media. But that is how this rivalry works. And that is how, as a fan of one team involved, we are wired to think.

We want our team to win more than anything. If our team is eliminated, we want the rival team to fail more than anything. The cliched saying “My two favorite teams are the Dodgers and whoever is playing the Giants” is absolutely true.

Hell, even some players think that way. This season, Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong admitted that he was raised through the Giants system hating the Dodgers and would like nothing better than to beat them. The two franchise’s greatest and most celebrated individual players (Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays) refused to sign with the rival team later in their careers. Robinson elected for retirement, Mays accepted a trade to the Mets.

Ask a Giants fan – they took great happiness in helping to knock the Dodgers out of Wild Card contention in the last series of the season. Even though they had clinched the division days before that. 

Ask a Dodgers fan – we are ALL rooting for the Cardinals to kick the Giants in the teeth and send them home. It’s not about winning or losing for us anymore, because it can’t be. It’s about causing as much failure-inflicted misery upon the team and its fans as we can possibly fathom.

Don’t cry foul – it works both ways. Giants fans love the Giants. Dodgers fans love the Dodgers. We despise each other’s teams (though not necessarily each other as fans – a good percentage of my close friends are Giants fans), and root for our team’s success and the other’s ultimate failure.

I tell people that even if the Dodgers miss the playoffs, it’s a good season if we beat the Giants. This season, that clearly didn’t happen. The Giants are three wins away from going to the World Series. The Dodgers are three strokes away from breaking par at Pebble Beach.

But if the Cardinals win tonight, the Giants will join the Dodgers on the golf course, and all was for naught. It means both of us failed. That the Giants are not better than us. And that is a small consolation for Dodgers fans who agonized over a roller coaster season that ended in pure disappointment.

I love the Dodgers. Therefore I hate the Giants. If the Cardinals are playing the Giants, I root for the Cardinals to destroy them, so I can live vicariously through that victory.

The Cardinals are one win away from knocking the Giants out. One good game. It could happen tonight. And as the rivalry goes, that potential win would craft an evil smile along the faces of an entire legion of Dodger fans.

That’s baseball, that’s life, and that is this rivalry.

And THAT is why I became the world’s biggest Cardinals fan overnight.

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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

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!

The Stars are Fading

March 13, 2012

I was talking with a buddy about this via text earlier today: All the stars from our generation in baseball are starting to retire. And it hurts. We’ve already lost Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey, Jr. to retirement.

Alex Rodriguez is a hobbled old man (but really, who liked him anyway?). Derek Jeter and Chipper Jones are winding down their careers. It’s just a sad, sad time for us 90’s kids.

The one that kills me the most is Mariano Rivera. As we all know by now, Mo has decided to be frustratingly covert about his post-2012 plans. He has hinted at coming back and hinted at retiring, but when the contract is up, he’ll have a big decision to make.

Rivera is getting on in years, but he’s still one of the best closers in baseball and is absolutely dominant in the postseason. He hasn’t had any major health issues, so this is purely brought on by being satisfied with his illustrious career.

It’s not often that a player gets to go out like that, but nobody is more deserving of such an honor than Mariano.

Whether or not Mo decides to retire after the season, he will be a first ballot Hall of Famer and go down as the greatest closer the game has ever seen. He’s won five rings with the Yankees and has an almost microscopic postseason ERA. The numbers will be remembered, but there are so many other intangibles that stand out about Rivera.

The reasons I will miss him (and let’s be real…the reasons I’ll cry when he retires) formulate an endless list. First and foremost, he is one of those rare players (like Jeter and Bernie Williams) who have the humility and class to make any baseball fan root for them.

I hate the Yankees – I’m in the majority there. But if you tell me that you hate Rivera, you will get a swift kick to the groin. Unless you’re bigger and faster than me. It’s impossible to hate a guy that has earned the sport’s respect with his play and his demeanor.

I remember watching an E:60 special on Mo a few months back. He hails from a small town in Panama, where he often returns in the off-season to help rebuild and financially strengthen a poor community. He is trying to spread the gospel of baseball in the place he grew up.

That’s not necessarily out of the ordinary for a successful Major Leaguer. But, Rivera is one of those once-in-a-lifetime players whose scope of influence is so vast that it can literally touch any fan, player or person on multiple continents.

Rivera never had a controversial moment in New York, even under the bright lights of the big city. He never basked in that spotlight, even amidst a wealth of prima donna teammates like A-Rod.

And perhaps best of all, Rivera is a great sport. Despite serving up the World Series-winning rally in 2001 to the Arizona Diamondbacks in one of his rare moments of failure, Mo never made excuses about his play.

Rivera is a true champion and a model human being. For my sake, your sake, and baseball’s sake, let’s hope he sticks around for another contract or two and continues to dominate hitters for a living. Bromantic tribute, end.

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!

A Spring Training Tragedy

February 25, 2012

No, I don’t mean that I’m not going to Spring Training next week. Would y’all get off of that? I’m over it. *Takes another sip of beer*Just kidding it’s barely past noon*So takes another sip of mimosa*.

What I’m really talking about is the only time I have been to Arizona to hit up some preseason baseball. I went with my Dad when I was in 8th grade. It was one of the best, most generous gifts I’ve ever received. And one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

So why a tragedy? Shakespeare wrote tragedies (or did he…) and he’s famous for them, so quit your bitchin’ and just read on!

There was the infamous fly-fried-in-our-Safeway-chicken incident. The missed opportunity to get inside the A’s clubhouse because of Adam Melhuse wracking his ankle on second base. And my inevitable sunburn. But those are nothing compared to what happened when I went to see the A’s play the Cubs in a split squad game.

I’ve sat mere feet away from the bullpen in a big league game. I got a ball handed to me by Robb Nen. I sat two tables away from Mark McGwire at California Pizza Kitchen. But those experiences are hogwash. Because at this A’s/Cubs game in Arizona, I sat about ten rows up from the field with my Dad, waiting for the game to start.

I’d already exhausted myself running around getting autographs from all the A’s players I could and was acquiring the aforementioned burn while the teams took their final warm ups. I was ignoring a large crowd of Cubs fans at the fence below me, trying to get some old coach to sign their stuff. Pft…silly kidsWasting your time.

Then I glanced again. And it hit me. I squinted, and made out the clear face of Ryne Sandberg as he lifted his head to answer an autograph-seeker with a laugh. I can tell you, I’ve never moved that fast in my life.

There was no doubt about it – that was the future Hall of Fame second baseman. I had completely forgotten he was coaching with the Cubs and would therefore be at this game. I found a blank ball, dove across my Dad to grab my pen and  I’m pretty sure just time-warped down the bleachers to get to the fence. I was completely okay with bowling over 5-year-olds in order to get this signature.

But like a heart-wrenching Hollywood script, I watched from my epic mid-air jump, in slow motion, as Sandberg finished signing a ball, waved a thank you to the crowd and turned to retreat to the dugout. The last thread of his jersey disappeared into the dugout as I landed at the fence.

Have you ever been so disappointed, shocked and ashamed of yourself that you just wanted to sit in a cold shower and cry? That’s how eighth-grade Jeremy felt watching one of the best second baseman of all time stride away, just out of reach.

To this day, missing Sandberg haunts me. It was a fabulous Spring Training trip. One of the best experiences a baseball fan could ever ask for. But I’ve vowed from this day forth to get that damn autograph. And I imagine when it happens, I’ll be able to shake Ryno’s hand and we can laugh about my previous swing-and-a-miss.

And probably get a beer together. And then he’ll ask me to play for his team. And I’ll help the Cubs to their first World Series title in a million years. And Sandberg (who I will probably be playfully referring to as “Sandy” by then because we’ll be so tight) will introduce me at my Hall of Fame ceremony.

And…what? Hey, anything is possible at Spring Training. Just don’t be a doof like me. Be prepared. And don’t buy fried chicken from the Glendale Safeway.

That’s some real talk. Welcome back, baseball. I missed you!

And I (hold it…) Will Always Love You (hold this one too…)

February 12, 2012

Believe it or not, Whitney Houston does merit a mention in a sports blog. Not simply because she was an incredible singer whose musical legacy demands I pay her respects (R.I.P. Whitney), but because she’s connected to the sport of baseball. At least for me. If you’re confused, grab a comfy seat and a blanket, sit back and let me tell you about the most embarrassing moment of my life.

If I don’t regularly make this clear, I’m a Dodgers fan. A big ol’ fat Dodgers fan. So naturally, I hate the Giants. So, naturally, when the Giants somehow lucked their way to the World Series in 2010, I was rooting for the Rangers. My friend decided she would root for the Giants, just to piss me off (it worked). In a fit of furor, I decided to bet her that the Rangers would win. I know I lost. No need to remind me.

See, the most unfortunate part, was the wager said winner picked a karaoke song for loser to sing on Taco Tuesday. She picked I Will Always Love You by Whitney. Personally, I thought I spit a killer rendition. Then I watched the video. I’m sure if you hunt deep enough into the layers of Facebook, you could find the documented proof. Please don’t. I’ll tell ya what, I’ve never hated the Giants more than when they forced me to vocally embarrass myself in front of hundreds of fellow drunk college students.

That’s my story. And I’m blushing now, thanks. Let’s move on.

So I’m breaking my promise. Again. Football time! I just can’t ignore two things in off-season football news. First, when another player makes fun of Tony Romo. Who doesn’t love that? Second, when I see a story suggesting blasphemy like this. The original link on Yahoo! Sports said “Romo a Hall of Famer?” I nearly lost my bowels when I read that.

I love to hate on Romo. I’m not shy about it. But I don’t think he’s necessarily a bad quarterback. Mistake-prone? Sure. Annoying? Definitely. Overrated? Absolutely. A bad player? Not at all. But a mother *censored* HALL OF FAMER? Give me a break. I’m more deserving of Sexiest Man Alive than Romo is of a plaque in Canton. If Romo can win a couple rings (spoiler: he won’t), he has a shot because he certainly can rack up the passing numbers.

Unfortunately for Cowboy fans, his penchant for throwing untimely interceptions and dropping holds on kicks will haunt his legacy forever.

On to the real football. What? Seriously? Dude, I’m talking about soccer. Anyways ya doofus, check out this story about the 1978 World Cup champions, Argentina. If this proves to be true (and it certainly seems like it might be), this is just a straight slap in the face to the entire sport. And shows exactly why politics and sports mix like oil and water.

If that story made you hate soccer more than you already did, then clear the kids from the room, light a few candles and put on some Barry White. Helllllllooooo Ms. Morgan!

I leave you today with the luckiest shot in the world.

I’m outta here. I’m gonna go dance with somebody (love you Whitney).


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