I read many blogs and other publications about where teams will finish at the end of the season. Many call the baseball season a marathon and that is a good description. 162 games spanning seven months and close to eight if your team is winning it all. Throw in the spring training and we have a nine month journey. Pacing one’s self is necessary.Since Boston and the 2009 World Champion Yankees are kicking this race off tomorrow, I thought it would be fun to look at the past Boston and NYC Marathon winners to see if there are patterns that can help me in predicting the winner of the 2010 baseball season.
In recent history for the Boston Marathon, if you were male and from Kenya, you won 16 of the last 20 years. If you were from Kenya and your name was Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot, you won 4 of the last 7 years. If you were female and from Kenya, you won 7 of the last 10 years. If you were female and your name was Catherine Ndereba from Kenya, you won 4 of those 7 times. For wheelchair marathon participants, winning 8 of the last 9 years from South Africa was Ernst Van Dyk for the men and for the women the last three years was Wakako Tsuchida from Japan.
For NYC, the marathon results tell not so clear a dynastic story. In the men’s division Martin Lel from Kenya had won twice in the last 7 years. Marilson Domes del Santos from Brazil had won twice in the last four years. In the woman’s division, both Paula Radcliffe from Great Britain and Jelena Prokopcuka from Latvia had won twice in the last five years. In the wheelchair division for the men, Kurt Fearnley from Australia has won the last four years and Edith Hunkeler from Switzerland won 5 of the last 6 years for the wheelchair woman’s division.
With dynasties and rivalries also present for marathons in these two cities as I have tried to show presently, I will now try to predict the winners of the 162 game baseball marathon and playoffs. My mantra for picking the winners this year is pitching and defense win the championship.
2010 American League East Division
With a rotation that has a proven ace in Josh Beckett, a ready-to-be ace in Jon Lester, a former ace of the Angels in John Lackey, a former ace of Japan in Daisuke Matsuzaka and arguably a future ace in Clay Buchholz along with a formidable bullpen that ends with Papelbon along with defensive improvements with the additions of Adrian Beltre, Mike Cameron and Marco Scutaro, this team will be hard for the Yankees and Rays to beat. Add this to the lineup of Ortiz, Martinez, Youkilis and Pedroia and this seems like a team ready to win again.
I really think the Angels lost too much to repeat as the winners of this division. That being said, I wonder if anyone has an all-around stronger pitching rotation and defense than them. Here is where I wonder if I have to go against my mantra and pick the Rangers with a formidable “softball beer league” lineup. The Mariners made great improvement but red flags go up for me when I see two great aces but no one proven behind them and a bullpen that is unproven. Sure, Chone Figgins helps but with Milton Bradley present, expect there to be “behavior” problems. The Athletics are a team I do not think has enough to compete. Winner by default: the Angels (only because of the deepest rotation in the division, bullpen and manager.)
When I see the Phillies, I see Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels leading a staff and team that wants to return. This being said, the Braves are going to be a team to reckon with because if enough of the Braves players want to win one to send the old man to retirement with, look out! They have a team that can do it. Still I think that the defending National League champs have a mission in mind. It is sort of this “until they are beat, give them the prize” mentality. They have the proven offense and aces to win a lot of games. What holds me back from saying it is a sure thing is the fact that Lidge is listed on the DL.This worries me.
2010 National League West Division
Okay, take the offense of the Dodgers along with their closer. The starters just do not excite me so much. The starters of the Giants are the deepest rotation with a competitive pop in the offense and one never knows. The Rockies have a formidable rotation, good offense and better bullpen so perhaps they can regain the edge to be on top. This is a tough division to choose for me. I like the Giants with their pitching and defense slightly ahead of the Rockies to pull it out in the end.
2010 National League Central Division
When you have two of the best sluggers, an outstanding ace and a formidable bullpen in a division where a team that has a curse over its state of mind, one can say that your chances of repeating as division winners are good. I like the Cardinals to win in this division simply because I think they are the most balanced of all the divisional teams.
2010 American League Wildcard
I think of the teams remaining, one has to think that the team with the best pitching and defense of the rest of the teams is between the Rays and the Yankees. I like the Yankees simply because of their ability to be consistent. Experience and consistency does well in marathons. Give this one to the Yankees! I always wonder when age will catch up with the Yankees. I won’t be disappointed if the Rays regain the Wildcard. I just think it is easier to give a current world champion their due.
2010 National League Wildcard
At this point in the season, I like the Braves to regain the Wildcard but I will not be surprised to see a team like the Rockies and Dodgers here either. I’ll give it to the Braves just because it makes for a great story! l like their overall team better than all the rest that are not division winners at this time. The rotation and overall team is the strongest of the teams remaining. What a fitting tribute to have Bobby Cox go into the playoffs one more time.
Don’t ask me anything about the playoffs because the teams have to get there first! After all, I plan to be watching them without my favorite team there once again. Enjoy the season, everyone! By the way, I think it is brilliantly ironic that the season starts on Easter this year. After all, every baseball fan holds a miracle of hope that somehow their team will rise up and become the champion they want them to be!
Tonight as I was watching the Yankees show power over the Rays, I was enjoying the fact that the Indians were off for the first time in about a month and enjoying the fact that the Indians were coming off a series win vs. the White Sox taking two out of three games due to fast balls thrown right over the heart of the plate leading to back to back homeruns twice in yesterday’s game and 8-4 win. The rookies on the team really shined with home runs from Luis Valbuena and Chris Gimenez followed by homeruns back to back from Victor Martinez and Shin-Soo Choo. What made it extra special was this offensive showcase was against Bartolo Colon, a former Tribe pitcher. These homers along with a defensive gem from Trevor Crowe helped the tribe shine to a series win.
Knowing the Royals are 1-9 in their last 10 games gives me confidence this series will also help our team overcome the odds, and come out on top. If we do then we should be out of the cellar. We shall see as our first adversary will be Brian Bannister. Good luck tomorrow, boys!
For all my whining, all the sighs, frowns, grunts, curse words, from others and myself, the outlook today for the Cleveland Indians at 24-33 and 6 games out of 1st place gives me great hope. That’s right, GREAT HOPE! The true ace of the staff this year is Carl Pavano, well at least a #2 starter. Why, you may ask? Consistency. We can count on him to go out and give the team a boost. Now if only we could see this same effort from all parties today.
Today Jeremy Sowers will go out and try to give us another boost against Gavin Floyd. Hopefully if everything goes the Tribe’s way, this performance will be repeated.
Chi White Sox IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Floyd (L, 2-3) 5.0 11 8 8 3 3 0 7.32
These were Gavin Floyd’s numbers against the Tribe back on May 11th, 2009. Another thing to make a note against Floyd is his 6.65 ERA in day games. However, Gavin is much better at home than on the road. Today’s game will be at home for him.
Sowers will take a 12.60 ERA for road games into today’s action. I just hope he can give more of what he has shown against Tampa Bay and the New York Yankees today against the White Sox. His numbers however if the past is any indicator have also been shaky against the pale hose.
Cleveland IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Sowers (L, 0-2) 4.0 7 5 5 3 3 3 12.00
This game will be seen on Fox locally today. I am looking to see an offensive shootout with us coming out on top. Let’s do it men in memory of Richard Jacobs!
My thoughts on Pronk:
Glad he finally arrived to take some pressure off Victor. I hope that he understands that he is truly a leader for our team. If consistency prevails for him, we should be that much better offensively. The question is IF! Well, I said in past blog entries that I had no expectations for this team so I should just sit back and enjoy this. I just want good health for him. After all, with Grady, Asdrubal and others either on the D.L. or struggling, seeing him hit that homerun is just what this offense needs. Now what we need from him is consistency. Here’s hoping and praying this is the case.
My thoughts on Carmona:
I’m glad he is where he is as long as he gets straightened out. He was not showing his dominant side. I was hearing rumors about him from some people I work with who are close to him. He was not in a good place so this move was necessary if those stories were true. Rather than assume and speculate about their validity, I will just hope Fausto gets the help he needs to become the pitcher we need him to be.
The White Sox series was a start. However, we need to continue. Currently, thanks to Choo who is a triple away from hitting the cycle, the Indians won 11-7 and I will reflect upon it later. Sorry I don’t blog as much as I’d like to. It is hard coming home from being or working at the game after working two jobs at one location and another in security at Progressive Field, and try to balance a family. However I am doing well and look forward to blog some now.
Game 1 of the White Sox series was one I watched in the comfort of my own home. What I saw was a combination of solid hitting by multiple players. (Finally, a team approach) and solid pitching by Carl Pavano. I was glad to see line drive swings rather than “trying to swing for the fences” over and over again. It was great to see a solid win. By this, I mean lots of hits, lots of runs, and solid pitching with few runs given up. Thus, a 9-2 result and a much needed win. As Melissa pointed out on Twitter on Monday, the Indians must win tonight. That is exactly what happened.
Game 2 of the series was the one I worked. I was placed in an area of the ballpark where it is hard to know what is going on in the game unless one is listening close to the call of Tom Hamilton and Mike Hegan because the location was away from the action on various monitors in the park. The only thing relaying any sign of the game is a radio speaker in the vicinity. If I was in the fan’s shoes, I would have been down in my seat screaming “Wake up out there. Let’s stop the insanity” Especially against Thome, a former Indian who we should definitely know how to handle, no excuses! Now one can see why Sowers was sent down before the game tonight when Luis Vizcaino was signed. During the game, I had a chance to talk to a co-worker close by me. We shared thoughts about who might be Wedge’s replacement. His opinion was Mike Hargrove. I thought it should be a former manager or coach whose team actually won the World Series.
After the game, I ran into Mark Shapiro. I saw his face all red, as if embarrassed scratching his head as he was walking out yet he remained professional and courteous wishing me a good night after I said “Good night, Mr. Sha-peer-oh, I mean Sha-pie-row” The rest of the way out to my car, I was embarrased for botching up his name. That is not how I wanted to make my first impression upon him. I kept asking myself, “Why can’t we win two in a row, for goodness sake?”
Game three was in the silence of the building management office I work in. It was nice to watch Gameday seeing the Indians doing well behind the power of Martinez and Garko to lead the offense and the superb pitching by Cliff Lee to help win the series over the White Sox. A series win for only the second time all year is great. We need to keep this up. It was also nice to see the rain hold off until the game was over on Weather Education Day sponsored by WKYC Channel 3.
Well I tried something different after dinner tonight. I invited my kids and wife to each write down where they thought each team would finish in the AL Central just to get differing opinions from my own perhaps.
First up was my daughter. She selected the White Sox for last, the Tigers for fourth, the Royals for third, the Indians for second and the Twins for first. I asked her why, She said the White Sox were too young, the Tigers were better offensively but their pitching was still suspect, the Royals were going to shock the division and do well, the Indians were going to fall just short and the Twins with the best pitching were going to carry the division.
Next was my son. He selected the Tigers for last because they were from a place he doesn’t like and the pitching is terrible. The Royals were going to remain a little better than them. The Twins system makes sense for third, the White Sox with their pitching were better than every team except Cleveland who have a really good heart. The heart is what makes the team great. Their team effort was going to make them the best.
Finally my wife stated the Tigers were going to be in fifth. When asked why, she stated that ESPN, the Magazine put them in the cellar. She was influenced by that and agreed. The White “Sux” as she likes to call them will be fourth. When asked why, she said they are as bad as the Tigers but she thought the Tigers were going to be slightly worse. The Royals were going to be third as a very improved team. The Twins reputation is to always exceed expectations so mark them for second. The Indians were first because they were her favorite team.
Now comes my turn.
This division may be tighter than even the experts think. Each team gives reasons for why they win and why they lose the division. Still I will try to give my best reasons for why they will finish the way they do.
The White Sox will go from 1st to 5th this year in the division. I know I hear all of you saying a lot of things. Remember, this is my opinion. However, I think I have a good argument for this. This team needed 163 games to win the division last year with a lot more talent. This year they lost Crede, Griffey Jr., Nick Swisher, Javier Vazquez and Juan Uribe. Their team is younger and inexperienced. New everyday players include Chris Getz and Josh Fields. The first three starters are solid yet former Indian Bartolo Colon is #4. Bottom line, this team lost too much, too quickly if they plan to compete in 2009.
The morning brought news that made me smile.
The news broke that Choo and his Korean team would be part of the second round in the WBC as they won 1-0. Not only are they a rivalry with the two countries, there is a part of me that thinks the rivalry continues when Ichiro return to the Mariners and Choo to the Indians. the reason for this is listed here. Also was the news that last night De Rosa and the USA advanced to the second round with a win against Venezuela reviewed here. So, all in all, the Tribe’s week was starting off well. However these results were not going to help at a place called Camelback Ranch.
Enter some potential and former WBC participants to pick up the slack. Grady Sizemore and Victor Martinez helped lead the tribe with other great performances from Andy Cannizaro, Tony Graffinino and Michael Brantley, the same one I thought of highly when he first arrived. Now we are on a winning streak. As meaningless as these Spring training games are, a win is a win is a win.
Looking forward to games this week and who to watch for, Tribe fans have to be eagerly anticipating the debut of some Wood on Tuesday followed by a Smith on Wednesday. I wrote about them here.
There is much riding on these contests. With God’s help and grace, these games can be a tuneup to an opportunity to shine like the sun for 2009, much like it does in the Arizona sky, mostly every day.
Saarloos showed me something when he was las with Oakland. I remember being focused on Michael Young then on my Beat the Streak contest at the time. I had no idea who Kirk Saarloos was. After seeing he shut Michael Young and the Rangers down sending me back to zero, I never forgot how that day impacted me.
When I heard we signed him on the Tribe, I was excited. I believed we had a pitcher that could give us depth and many innings in relief if nothing else. I always have been trying to see some great efforts in these Cactus League games. Today’s game really impressed me when reading Saarloos’s stats.