Wednesday, November 15, 2017

I May Sound Old But..

In today's sports landscape there are two types of managers, the old school "use my intuition/go by the book" manager and the new school "go by the numbers" type of manager. The Houston Astros just won the World Series in an unconventional way, they relied on piggy backing starters. Which means that instead of having a traditional reliever come in and work an inning or two the Astros used another starter who can go longer than your traditional reliever. The Kansas City Royals on the other hand relied on their relief corp to help carry them to a World title in 2015. Neither team is an old school type. To really find an old school type of team to have won a title was maybe the Red Sox who relied on timely power hitting and a strong starting staff to win them a title in 2013. Baseball is an ever evolving sport and with the introduction of advanced analytics it is growing and growing fast. Ways to win championships have evolved from the time tested "pitching and defense" method that I've been hearing about since I first put on my first catcher's mask.

Gone are the days of Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa, Jim Leyland, and Jack McKeon. These are legendary managers who lead their teams to the promise land using old school tactics that in today's game is getting harder and harder to quantify. These guys have been replaced by the AJ Hinch (manager of the Astros), Dave Roberts (manager of the Dodgers), Mike Matheny (manager of the Cardinals), and others who now have to run their lineups by the front office suit wearing types to make sure that the analytics of the hitters they're using line up in favor against the particular pitcher the team is facing that night. There's no way in hell that Jim Leyland would allow a pencil pusher tell him where to bat Miguel Cabrera against a tough rightie or whether it was time to pull a starting pitcher. The game has evolved to the point where pitchers aren't seeing a lineup for a third time and a leftie hitter is most likely not going to face a tough lefty even though the hitter has a hitting streak going. There are too many chefs in the kitchen nowadays with too many ingredients trying to cook up a plate that for a very long time relied on one guy throwing a ball at another guy who's trying to hit the ball to the moon.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

What a Series

The current World Series may not be between the teams most people wanted (most folks would've preferred a Yankees VS Dodgers match-up) but it has turned out to be a spectacular showdown between two very good teams that have both veterans and youth impacting the games. The thing about the World Series is that it brings players to light that casual fans would never be introduced to. Like Astros third baseman Alex Bregman who has made his mark on these playoffs by homering off of Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale, and Kenley Jansen all of which are either the best at what they do or at the top of the list of players at their positions and has made spectacular plays defensively at third base. Not only did he hit home runs off of these pitchers they were crucial home runs to support the run the Astros have ridden this far. Before his break out in the classic game 5 Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger was in an a horrible slump, but he is a rising star. In the regular season he hit 39 home runs and had 97 runs batted in. Between Bellinger, Corey Seager, and Justin Turner the Dodgers are set with a core of players that are ready to carry this team to multiple runs at titles.

The Yankees and Nationals have young studs of their own, but what has unfolded between the Astros and Dodgers in this series has been nothing short of amazing. No doubt this series is headed to a game 7. No doubt will it be a good game because there are talented players all over the field, but also because baseball needs it to be a good game. With baseball being as young as it is and the loud complaints about how the sport is slow and boring this World Series is showing how much fun baseball can be. These two teams and all the young talent on these teams are going to be around for a long time. Altuve, Correa, Springer, Bellinger, Seager, Turner, and Taylor these are just a few names that are going to be on SportCenter or on back pages of the newspaper for the next 10 or so years and believe me there are going to be more names popping up and soon.

Monday, October 16, 2017

NBA Tip Off Around the Corner

Here we go again. On the 17th of October the drama that is the NBA season tips off with the Cleveland Cavaliers go up against the Boston Celtics in a match up between LeBron James and recent Cleveland defector Kyrie Irving. Kyrie Irving got his wish and is now the main option on his own potential title contender in Boston, teaming up with recent free agent signee Gordon Hayward, and whatever parts are left over from the trade that sent Isaiah Thomas to Cleveland. The East once again looks like the weaker conference with about 3 maybe 4 teams that can be taken into serious consideration and the Celtics and Cavaliers seem to be the front running squads destined to come out to face the Warriors in the Finals.

The West has had a whirlwind of activity this off season. From Chris Paul being shipped to the Rockets to Paul George and Carmelo Anthony being sent to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Western Conference has made many moves in the attempt to overcome the powerhouse that is the Golden State Warriors. Moving powerful names like Paul, George, and Anthony to new squads trying to offset the modern day empire that is Curry, Durant, Thompson, and Green, but the Warriors found a way to keep their empire together. Signing Curry to the huge deal he earned and keeping Durant in the fold with a short, but reasonable deal, that keeps their champion core together. I don't see a team as balanced as Golden State out there. If injuries don't sideline any of their core the Warriors should once again ride off into the sunset with another title.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Jeter the Owner?

The Miami Marlins are going to be free from the ineptitude of their owner Jeffrey Loria. Derek Jeter is heading an ownership group that is going to pay 1.2 billion dollars to take over the Marlins. A need that should have the people in Miami celebrating. My question is what kind of owner is Jeter going to be? He's never been the head of an organization, he's been the face of a franchise, but not the head of a franchise and there is a difference. Jeter won 5 titles while playing 20+ years in the majors, all with the Yankees, but would that translate to success as an owner? There is so much to worry about as an owner compared to being just a player. The player worries about the present day and the current season while the owner has to worry about not only the current season, but also next season. The depth of the organization, the organization's stance with the community, and the financials of the organization all of this and more has to be in the owner's purview.

Just because Jeter was there to watch how George Steinbrenner ran the Yankees for so many years doesn't mean that he's going to be a good owner. Remember Steinbrenner was suspended for a while as owner because he fell out of favor with the league. Also, Steinbrenner was, and to this day his estate, is filthy rich so he was able to bully his way in free agency by throwing money around. Who knows who the money for this organization is going to be and how much are they willing to invest in the Marlins to make them as successful as Jeter is used to being in the realm of baseball. For now the city of Miami (once the sale of the team is approved by the league) gets to celebrate that they're going to be out from under the Loria regime which in its own is a win.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

When Will the NFL Start to Worry?

It started a few years ago at the height of the NFC West's shining time. The San Francisco 49ers were a threat with a tough as nails defense and an offense that while it was lagging behind the dominance of the defense covered for the majority of the deficiencies on the offensive side of the ball. The Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals have been able to avoid the pitfall that the 9ers fell into when they lost vital players at all three levels of their defense including 3 linebackers who were the backbone of the defense. They all stepped away from the game behind the veil of the concussion and the overall damage they were taking from playing football. The players are to blame for looking out for their future, but the NFL has to take notice that a lot of players are taking the early exit. Players are retiring in their late 20's/early 30's.

As the concern over CTE and brain damage has come to the forefront of the league players are taking notice. More and more players are taking their money and moving on to other endeavors where they can be financially secure while also keeping their brains intact. The problem is the NFL is kinda stuck. How is the NFL supposed to accommodate players or ex-players in regards to this damage? How far back is the NFL supposed to go to treat players? How much would all this cost? Because no matter how much money the NFL makes there still has to be a limit as to how much they can spend on players who no longer benefit the league. Players did sign up for this, but how much of it is the league responsible for? And will this be the downfall of the America's past time?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

We're Talking About Summer League?

The Los Angeles Lakers won this off-season's Summer League. Congrats to them, but to steal a sentiment from Allen Iverson: what are we talking about? We're talking about Summer League. Not a real a game, barely even a practice. We're talking about Summer League. Most of the players that are playing in this league are rookies, who have been recently drafted, or players trying to hold on to a miracle of making a G-League (formerly the D-League) team. Lonzo Ball won the MVP of the league even though he played about 4 games. Lonzo stole the headlines of the league with his triple doubles and his sneaker choice, but at times he looked unathletic and slow, he did make crisp passes and looked pretty good overall.

Maybe it's because the sports landscape kind of dries up during the summer when the sexy sports like the NBA and NFL are not in season and college sports are still a few weeks away that these minor league games take such prominence. The Summer League has never been taken seriously, but here are media gasbags making a mountain out of what has always been a molehill. Good for Ball for looking good. Good for the Lakers to have won a championship, something they won't see in the true Association for at least five years when they hopefully win the LeBron lotto and pair him with a more seasoned Ball and the core of young players the Lakers have. Now that the Summer League is over it's time to turn the public's eye to the NFL teams and who they were about to tag instead of signing long term deals.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Deadline Draws Near

With the second Wild Card still a thing; and MLB still hasn't listened to me about moving the deadline back so that teams on the fence can figure out the right time to make the necessary decisions to either buy or trade teams have started to make some moves. The Cubs traded a huge haul to the White Sox for their ace Jose Quintana even with his 4+ era and the Nationals traded away 3 pitchers to the Athletics for relief help that they needed so desperately. From now til August 31st teams will either push all their chips to the center of the table (the Cubs) so they can continue their push for another World Series or try to accumulate as many pieces for a brighter future (the White Sox). More teams are on the hording pieces side of the equation where several teams can open up their roster and make anyone available in the hopes of becoming the next Cubs or Astros who have a young controllable team.

The Red Sox have a very strong team, but their deficiencies at third base is glaring. The trade of Travis Shaw is not looking good for the Sox who are looking to trade for a third baseman after the failed experiment of Pablo Sandoval who the Sox signed for a huge amount of money (5 years 95 million dollars) while Shaw has been thriving for the Milwaukee Brewers. Rumor has it Todd Frazier is on the Sox's radar and he seems to fit somewhat the needs of the Sox so that could be a chip that falls soon. Some would say the deadline sits in the lap of the White Sox who have several players who they can trade away beginning with Frazier, but also their closer David Robinson might be moved too, along with them is Melky Cabrera who is having a solid year for the White Sox who could be a pretty good 4th outfielder for a contender, he can be had too. So be prepared for the flurry of moves that will envelope the next few weeks.