Archives for posts with tag: Los Angeles Dodgers

I have to admit, things were getting exciting. After a week that saw the Yanks energized by a 7-game win streak the Bronx Bombers have now crashed back to reality thanks to losing two out of three to the visiting LA Dodgers and dropping three in a row to the rival Sawx with a series sweep possible after tonight’s contest. Leave it the Boston Red Sox to make a statement this week about who the AL East champ should be. Truth be told to, the Yanks were playing above their talent and the Sawx have been nice enough to provide a much needed reality check.

Thursday night’s 7-5 loss which saw the Sawx rally for 5 runs in 9th inning, with four runs charged to “relief ace” Dellin Betances, was a defining moment for both clubs. For the Sawx, it was a reminder of just how intimidating their lineup is and that no lead is insurmountable. For the Yanks, it was another example of going to the bullpen well once too often as well as not being capable of putting opponents away, as best exemplified by the 12 runners left on base. I know that no closer is perfect, not even the great soon to HOFer Mariano Rivera, but if your closer can’t protect a three-run lead in the 9th inning of a September game, your team shouldn’t be playing in October.

On the bright side, this year’s Yankees are still six games over .500 and still capable of another winning season. Not exactly the consolation prize you want, but sometimes you take what you can get. Gary Sanchez continues to carry the team on his back and garner serious AL Rookie of the Year talk with 15 HRs and 29 RBIs in just 40 games played. Masahiro Tanaka is pitching like the ace the Yanks signed in 2014 with a 2.97 ERA as he approaches 200 IP for the season. And the recent signing of Billy Butler has been a much needed shot in the arm with Billy, also known as “Country Breakfast,” going 3 for 7 with a HR and 4 RBIs in his first three games. I do not see him as a long term acquisition but if he wants to use the last two weeks of the season as an audition for the rest of the AL, he can just keep slugging away.

Mathematically the Yanks playoff hopes aren’t over. But as they currently stand at 3.4% I think we can pronounce those hopes dead. It’s been quite the rollercoaster season and with the two weeks left anything is possible…..with the exception of a playoff berth.

Advertisements

With the wild card play-in games complete now we can look at the actual playoff picture. And while I believe it’s anyone’s game and that any team can get hot and stay hot here’s what I see:

Blue Jays over Rangers in 5 games

Royals over Astros in 4 games

Cardinals over Cubs in 4 games

Dodgers over Mets in 3 games

 

Royals over Blue Jays in 6 games

Dodgers over Cardinals in 7 games.

 

Royals over Dodgers in 7 games

 

So, yes, I am staying on the same Kansas City Royals’ bandwagon that I joined last year. The Royals season ended last year a mere 90 feet from tying game 7 of the World Series and they have just gotten better. I do believe this is their year. Then again, I had the Yankees winning the AL East in July.

 

Play ball!!!

I’ve never been the baseball fan that Jose is. It’s that simple. But, I have followed the game, with varying levels of intensity, since I was in junior high. Still, when I lived in Boston, I only made it out to Fenway for two games, and before Jose, I only saw three or four games in LA.

But when I started dating Jose, it became clear that I was going to be upping my intake of baseball, and I worried a bit. I was a casual baseball fan at best. There is no formative story where a parent takes me out to the ball park and explains the game to me, painstakingly pointing out what a fielder’s choice is or why the guy at first has to run. My dad had been a baseball player in high school and I went to a number of games as a child (even played in a few pick-up games in the neighborhood) but beyond understanding the basics (walks, strikes, hit the ball and run), I didn’t really KNOW the game. Over the years, I’d figured things out, but to be sitting next to Jose, I felt that wouldn’t be enough.

So, I decided to take my spectatorship to the next level: I decided to start keeping score. For the first several games I went to with Jose, I learned how to do just that, basically by mining the treasure trove that is Jose. In those days, I was constantly asking questions (“How would I mark that?” or “What just happened?”) and over time, I learned a lot of the nuances of the game. Asking questions and being forced to watch made me a better spectator. Heck, just the other night, at a minor league game between the Rochester Red Wings and Toledo Mud Hens, I realized that what I saw was an error instead of a hit. Jose thought I was wrong, but lo and behold, the official score keeper agreed with me (and yes, that felt good).

There aren’t a lot of us keeping score from what I can see. Based on my completely unscientific survey (watching for the other people poised with pencil and score card), it seems to be a pastime mainly for older fans. That’s a shame. Keeping score helps me focus on the game. Baseball is pregnant with pauses. The action is cocooned by the time when most people are doing the wave or eating or frankly paying attention to something else. Keeping score, watching and waiting so that I don’t miss what’s going on, keeps me on the edge of my seat: I have to be watching carefully so that I can write down what happens next.

It is a practice in record keeping. That might sound like I’ve drained all the fun out of the game, but no, that isn’t it at all. I have a scorebook I bought at the 99-cent store in LA, and I tape the tickets from the games to the pages where I keep score. This means that I can flip through the pages and see a Red Sox/Angels game from 2009 (the Sox won, btw). I can see the Dodgers, the Diamondbacks, the Yankees, the Cardinals, the Mets, the Phillies, the Tigers, the Pirates, and the various minor league teams I’ve had the pleasure to watch. I can read notes to myself like “Lisa and I got rained on and left after the 5th” or “Wasn’t watching, no idea what happened.” Keeping score has not only helped me really learn the game of baseball but it has given me something that is all my own. While I am sure there are officially-sanctioned ways that one should be keeping score, since I started with pencil and paper back in 2008, I developed a personal system, something that is uniquely Chera. Every record becomes my very own souvenir of that game, and my score book has become a unique scrapbook of my life as a baseball fan.

Yes, there are still times when I have to lean over and ask Jose what just happened. He thinks baseball the same way many people think a second language. I will never be that fluent. My baseball is much better than it used to be, but it still comes out in stutters. Keeping score helps me work on that, and I may be speaking in complete sentences now, but I’m still not 100% sure about the grammar. That’s why I keep score.

With the US based regular season about to begin thought it would be a good time to take a look at what the 2014 season might have to offer. Predictions are starting to roll in and thankfully no one is being particularly bold like when most picked the Blue Jays to win it all last year. As for me, here’s just an outline of how I can see the season playing out, and would kinda like it to:

AL East – Boston Red Sox
AL Central – Kansas City Royals
AL West – Oakland A’s

Wildcard #1 – Tampa Bay Rays
Wildcard #2 – New York Yankees

NL East – Washington Nationals
NL Central – St. Louis Cardinals
NL West – Los Angeles Dodgers

Wildcard #1 – Atlanta Braves
Wildcard #2 – Pittsburgh Pirates

Not too many surprises except that I see the Royals winning the AL Central. I think the Tigers postseason run ends this year. They had their chances the past few seasons but the loss of the Prince Fielder and Doug Fister, not to mention the rash of injuries that has just begun, will allow the upstart Royals to take the division. Let the Tiger hate mail begin.

In the end, I see the Dodgers beating the A’s in the World Series. No idea if any of this will come true but as with any baseball season anything is possible. As always, I and everybody else will have a much better sense 40 games in. Can’t wait!

The divisional round is over and I am 4/4. So, what did we learn? The Dodgers are not a flash in the pan, the Red Sox are for real, the Cardinals continue to be formidable in elimination games, and the real Justin Verlander is finally emerging – too bad he won’t be available until game three of the ALCS.

My predictions stay the same, with the Dodgers beating the Cards in seven and the Sawx besting the Tigers in six. Now, if the Sawx want to appease devastated Yankee fans and just sweep the Tigers, that would be greeeaaaatt…..

As a Yankee fan I am still disappointed to not see a playoff run. But as a baseball fan I am very excited to see the four best teams left standing in the LCS round. I expect to see great match-ups and memorable games. And each team has a great story:

Daniel Nava of the Red Sox spent the last few years being called up and sent down, and finally gets a chance to solidify his role as the everyday RF. I look forward to Nava making the best of this opportunity.

Matt Adams of the Cardinals was asked to fill the shoes of Allen Craig and has responded with an outstanding rookie campaign that was punctuated by a mammoth home run in the divisional clinching game.

Jose Iglesias of the Tigers was dealt by the Red Sox and has given the Tigers much needed defense at SS, with almost a highlight every night. No telling if he will be expected to replace Jhonny Peralta, but I am rooting for him.

Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers is on the cusp of a record breaking contract, especially after his starts against the Braves. And now, Kershaw has the national stage to justify the comparisons to Dodger legend Sandy Koufax, as well as building his own legend.

There’s plenty of good baseball left, and it’s a great time to be following the game. Enjoy!

With the wild card games decided and the actual playoffs ready to begin, I thought I would give predicting a shot. So, here’s my playoff picture:

Red Sox over the Rays in 4 games

Tigers over the A’s in 4 games

Dodgers over the Braves in 3 games

Cardinals over the Pitates in 5 games

Red Sox over the Tigers in 6 games

Dodgers over the Cardinals in 7 games

Red Sox over the Dodgers in 6 games

As much as it pains me to say it, I’ve got the Sawx winning it all. The Red Sox have the best offense in baseball along with the 1-2 punch of Clay Bucholz and Jon Lester, not to mention the motivation of sticking it to Bobby V. Even a Yankee fan like me can live with that, even if I’m pulling for the Dodgers all the way.

The Yankees swept the Astros to finish off the 2013 season. Even if the Yankees had made the playoffs, I doubt such an ending to the season would have been noteworthy. So, while I am very happy that my prediction about the Toronto Blue Jays being craptacular came true, I am not very happy that the Yankees won the 85 games I thought they would.

The highlight of the weekend was Andy Pettitte’s complete game victory in his last game in pinstripes. Playoff run aside, I don’t think Andy could have scripted it better and he will go down as one of the all-time “gamers” in Yankee history.

The lowlight of the weekend was not getting to see Mo play one final time. I know fans in Houston would have liked to see Mariano Rivera take the mound, but I was hoping to see him play out his final wish with an inning maning CF. But it turns out he gave all had down the stretch, fighting an ailing knee and forearm. And I didn’t think it was possible for him to earn anymore of my respect.

And now we have an off season ripe with question marks. The 2013 Yankees didn’t resemble any Yankee squad in recent history. And there’s no telling what the 2014 Yankees will look like. So many free agents, so many decisions to be made, this will be the most watched and scrutinized Yankee off season in forever. I will go into further detail throughout the upcoming off season. I’m just hoping beyond hope for the return of a healthy Derek Jeter and another playoff run. I will take my recent discovery of Derek Jeter’s 2013 Topps card in the first pack of cards I purchased this year as an omen.

As far as the upcoming playoffs, I have the Red Sox beating the Dodgers in six games, if for no other reason than it will keep my wife off of my back. (Go Dodgers!)