Thursday, July 25, 2013

"Kids love Soccer too" - What ha... happened (July Part two)

"Kids love Soccer too" - What ha... happened (July Part two)
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (7-25-13)

[Part one - There are fans and there are FANS]

One day early this week! Off next week and back with football in August.

"What ha... happened," where we scour the internet for a crazy sports photo and someone must try to explain it. Seesaw Sports asks what ha... happened? Monday: Opening statement. Thursday: Rebuttal.

Real photos. Real results. But what in the heck happened?

I present to you the following.

Photo: Kicking things up even further... soccer style.

Title: "Kids love soccer too!"

Description: You take your ambiguous photo of adults pretending to be fans and I'll stick with the children. Kids always say what is on their mind. No sugarcoating necessary. And here is a perfect example. When a call goes against this little tyke, he shows the ref what he thinks of him. And if I spoke whatever language the little guy is fluent in (because it is obviously not English since he is a soccer fan), I'm sure I would get an earful of perfectly eloquent foreign swearing. Just adorable.

He's mad at the refs, right? Not one of those racist soccer hooligans in its early stages, bombarding black players with slurs? We can all appreciate a fan spewing hate at a man wearing stripes, but otherwise we have to draw the line. You tell me though, what ha... happened?

I have to hand it to you, this little tyke is definitely a tiny terror. Logic would dictate he's imitating his father, who must be thrusting both middle fingers in the air while spitting on the heads of the opposing fans sitting in front of him. Right? This is beyond any logic. This kid be crazy!

This deranged soccer fan is not imitating anyone, he's full on pissed at the red card being dolled out on the field. And you know what came next. He launched his juice box as far as his baby arms could throw it, plucking the opposing team's coach in the head. And the blood on his face? War paint baby, war paint.

When getting into a soccer brawl, I recommend having one of these tiny pricks on your side. His head is at crotch level, perfect for a sneak attack head butt to the groin. Got him! His last victim was a bleeder.

Monday, July 22, 2013

"There are fans and there are FANS" - What ha... happened (July Part one)

"There are fans and there are FANS" - What ha... happened (July Part one)
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (7-22-13)

We partied really hard at the wedding this weekend, so its fitting to follow up with "What ha... happened." Ah, memories. Part two will come early on Thursday and a hiatus next week for the honeymoon. Woo!

"What ha... happened," where we scour the internet for a crazy sports photo and someone must try to explain it. Seesaw Sports asks what ha... happened? Monday: Opening statement. Thursday: Rebuttal.

Real photos. Real results. But what in the heck happened?

I present to you the following.

Photo: Let's kick things up a notch. There are fans and there are FANS.

Title: "Women love baseball too!"

Description: I'm not saying its love and devotion, but its the only explanation I could come up with. Well, silly me, that's your job. Full on french kissing the Phillies' mascot. Check! Sexy in doing so. Check check! Having the Philly Phanatic make you his bitch. Unintended consequence?

You tell me. What ha... happened?

I have to tell you, you are way off on this. You missed all the warning signs too. A female baseball fan this devoted seems fishy. But one who would root for the Phillies is downright improbable. What happened was this poor soul lost a bet.

Most people bet for money or for some kind of reimbursement. If you win, I get a week in your summer home but if I win...etc. It is just as feasible though that people would bet their bodies, for lack of a better phrase. Loser has to get a very embarrassing tattoo! Or, loser has to go to second base with the Philly Phanatic. This woman has rounded first and is well on her way to a double.

To add insult to injury, this clear loser had to do so in Phillies garb and then had to attend an actual Phillies baseball game. So, so sad.

At least whoever they lost the bet to didn't make them go to Citi Field. That would have been going too far.

Friday, July 19, 2013

NBA Free Agency: Winners and Tankers - Part two

NBA Free Agency: Winners and Tankers - Part two
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (7-19-13)

[Part one - Crying tears of Joy]

Next May we'll care more about who is bottoming out in the NBA and who's fighting to make the playoffs than who has the best overall record. Although the battle for best record in each conference shouldn't be overlooked. Chicago and the Nets will be giving Miami a real run for its money for home court advantage, and in the West Oklahoma City will have to fend off the Clippers and Spurs. However, the tankapalooza will surely be the biggest story. As for 8th seed squabbles, I can't disagree more with the importance of just making the playoffs when it comes to New Orleans and the Bucks.

There are two types of franchises in the NBA, perennial winners and everyone else. The list of winners is rather short, but happens to include my Celtics. As a winner they have the luxury of placing future success and the potential for more NBA titles ahead of current success, a la the upcoming season. The fans aren't going anywhere and have won so often in the past that they realize what's good for their team in the long run. Everyone else, teams like New Orleans and Milwaukee who you mentioned, need success to just keep going. Those owners can't take their fans for granted, can't tank a potential playoff season. How often do the Bucks or Pelicans make the playoffs? Once every five seasons if they're lucky? I'm not sure its even that good for those poor franchises.

As a Jets fan I know what its like to consistently miss the playoffs. And I know how amazing it is for my team to even be in the post season, let alone be competitive and advance a round or two. Now rooting for the Clippers for eight years, I have loved every minute of these last two seasons with playoff basketball. Sure, this past year could have been more successful, but considering the history of the team and its fans, this season was awesome! So as the New Orleans Pelicans, if you have even a decent team you have to work to make it better. You have to give your fans hope, a playoff berth. Fight for that post season spot. You aren't going to be the worst team in the league, so win more fans nationally with a first round playoff upset victory. That's exactly what you are congratulating the Pistons for doing in free agency!

I'm going to real back my tangent and stomp on your Clippers hate. DeAndre Jordan is getting traded before the season. And if for some reason he is still on the team, mark my words, you will not see Doc Rivers playing him with five minutes to go in the game. He is too big a free throw shooting liability. That is what Doc Rivers brings to the table. And I'm still on the Blake Griffin bandwagon. He WILL improve this season. His game will get better and another season playing with Chris Paul, come on, how can he not get smarter?

How can Blake Griffin not get smarter? Duh. Because supposedly Griffin and CP3 hate each other...just sayin'.

But anyways, you make a great point on the fringe playoff contenders. I don't know why I liked the Pistons' moves so much more than those other squads. Maybe it's because they have a higher upside with those three bigs, two of which are very young. They still aren't making the Eastern Conference Finals with that group; I get it...although, would the Heat be able to handle them?? They'd be like Indiana on super pills, with three bigs instead of two, and no point guard close to the level of George Hill and no player anywhere near Paul George...alright, check that.

So maybe you're right about a team just making the playoffs can be a good thing. Although NBA history tells us the easiest way to get good is to bottom out first, Houston just proved that is not absolutely necessary. They toiled away in the middle for years, collecting assets and were able to turn them into two of the top 15 players in the league. It can be done, even if Daryl Morey almost lost his job in the process.

The only thing you brought up which isn't totally fair is the Jets comparison. Making the playoffs in the NFL is a much different beast. Any NFL playoff team can make the Super Bowl. In fact, the favorites rarely do it seems. The NBA does not have such circumstances and probably never will. It is not a league for Cinderella stories.

Wow, excellent point but why is that? We NEVER see a Cinderella story in the NBA, but we get it in college hoops all the time. In every one of the other three major sports you see Cinderellas, teams who squeak into the post season and run all the way to the championship. It hadn't been common in baseball, but in the last several years its nearly a certainty that one team will surprise everyone come September into October. In the NFL we see it year in and year out, teams going deep into the playoffs seemingly out of nowhere.

Now these "Cinderella" stories don't always win it all, but in the NBA they never get past the second round of the playoffs. I was pulling so hard for Golden State this past season, just because having them in the Western Conference Finals would have felt like a Cinderella story. But even so, it wouldn't have been. The Warriors were really really good all season and by no means squeaked into the playoffs. The Lakers would have been the team this past year to meet the Cinderella qualification.

I know we jumped ship on the whole free agency and tanking debate, but you snagged my brain on this one. You're the college hoops expert, so why no NBA Cinderella teams when we get them in the NCAA so often?

You bring up a slightly interesting point but it has nothing to do with college basketball. Cinderella stories happen so often in the NCAA because their playoffs are one game. The better team will win one game, say, 65% of the time...leaving us with upsets in 35% of all games being played. Thus, March Madness is filled with upsets! In a bunch of one-game series, it is not anarchy; it's just math.

As for hockey and baseball, there are two important equalizers that swing series unlike in other sports. Those equalizers are the goalie and the starting pitcher, respectively. The famous baseball saying is momentum is only as good as your next day's starting pitcher and a hot goalie can take you all the way. The best team does not necessarily have the best of these players.

NBA basketball is really quite simple. They play best of seven series so the best team has a much larger chance of winning. More importantly, a young team needs to go through the process and learn how to win, take their lumps, etc. You're first supposed to make the playoffs. The next year, you can win a round or two. Only after the third or fourth time experiencing "playoff basketball" should you be able to win the title. Teams don't come from nowhere and advance to the Finals. Just doesn't happen.

This makes things easy to predict for the upcoming NBA season. The Houston Rockets might make the West finals, but they don't know how to win yet. Mark it down. No championship for Dwight.

On a completely unrelated topic... I'm getting MARRIED tomorrow! 7-20-13 Woooo!

Yay! Best man in the house! And congrats of course.

It's going to be a blast. I may be a bit dazed afterwards, so its fitting that we talk "What ha... happened?" next week. Then there'll be a one week Seesaw Sports hiatus for my honeymoon, to return in August with all out NFL.

Monday, July 15, 2013

NBA Free Agency: Crying tears of Joy - Part one

NBA Free Agency: Crying tears of Joy - Part one
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (7-15-13)

I needed some time for my tears to dry. Tears of JOY and SADNESS, but ultimately joy. As a former Bostonian who now calls Los Angeles home, I root for both the Celtics and Clippers. I'm like Bill Simmons, if he never watched basketball. More of a playoffs guy. Normally this causes little to no conflict of interest. Hell, the Clippers have stunk for forever. But NBA free agency threw pie in my face. Should I be happy the Clippers have an amazing new coach in Doc Rivers and re-signed Chris Paul, or sad that the Celtics lost an amazing coach in Doc Rivers, replaced him with a college guy from Butler, and dumped Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in the process?

I think I'm actually happy about both things! The Clippers got better and possibly pushed themselves into the Western Conference Finals discussion. The Celtics got worse, exactly what they needed with a roster previously full of aged super stars. I do feel bad for Rajon Rondo, but ultimately he'll either get help in 2014 in Boston, or find himself on a new team that can't be worse than the current deconstructed Celtics.

So how about this NBA free agency, once again making waves? Doc to the Clippers. Pierce and Garnett to the Nets. Howard to Houston. Other people going places that the local fan bases care about. Good times.

Now you know me. I'm more of an "other people going places" person. I don't have an affinity for the Celtics or Nets or Knicks or any of the bigwigs in the NBA. I kinda, sorta have a soft spot for Houston because I was always a Tracy McGrady fan and followed his career. But even still, I am more excited about James Harden taking another step than I am to see what Dwight Howard has left.

Is it just me or was that whole Dwight episode very bizarre? Did anyone watch him play last season? He wasn't even a top three center, let alone a top three guy overall. Give me Marc Gasol, Joakim Noah or, hell, I'd even think about Brook Lopez over him. He obviously makes the Rockets better, but not a championship favorite. And I am sorry to say that Doc Rivers doesn't make the Clippers one either. They still have no crunch-time lineup, no big men they feel comfortable playing down the stretch of games, and very few defensive-minded players in general. Those were problems that crept up last season and, although Doc may improve the team's overall defensive outlook, he doesn't improve J.J. Redick's on-ball defense or Blake Griffin's shot blocking or Deandre Jordan's free throw shooting. They should be a dynamic offensive team once again; they should not, however, be looked at as better than Oklahoma City.

In the end, the Western Conference has gotten much tighter all around but this idea that Houston and LA are going to battle in the conference finals seems a bit premature. In fact, I think the more interesting battle will be for the eighth spot. Minnesota and Portland seem much improved. Dallas is going for it. There are at least ten teams that are playoff-worthy and that isn't even counting the Lakers.

As for the East, and in the category of "other people going places," I am sky high on the Detroit Pistons. I've always had a fondness for Greg Monroe: an adept passing power forward who can step out and hit a jump shot. The entire league now has a fondness for Andre Drummond, yet another UConn product, following in the footsteps of Rudy Gay, who actually seems like a better NBA player than he ever was in college. Brandon Knight is a nice guard who just needs to find his position, either at the point or the two. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, their number one pick, was the best shooter in the draft and should immediately open up more room inside for everyone else. And adding Josh Smith to this mix is fascinating. Smith had the reverse-Dwight happen to him this offseason. For some reason, people were all about crushing his game. Whereas everyone overlooked what Howard was bad at (or no longer good at), people focused on the small aspects of Smith's game that are stomach-churning. However, his overall talent is outstanding and he is routinely one of the best seven or eight forwards in the game. No other player in the league today matches his production of points, rebounds, steals and blocks. I think he instantly makes Detroit a playoff team in the Eastern Conference.

What is interesting about this coming season is how many teams are actually going for those final playoff spots in each conference. There are a few squads who are (rightly) rebuilding. 2014 is a popular destination for tankers with the sky high prospects expected to enter the draft. However, there are a handful more teams who probably should be making themselves worse. Undoubtedly, different owners have different objectives, but what is Milwaukee or New Orleans going to do with that playoff berth if they get it?

There are a lot of pieces other than the actual road to the championship to consider for the 2013-2014 season. In fact, I can guarantee the race for the eighth seeds in each conference and the race for the worst overall record in the league will be much more interesting than that battle for the top spot next May.

The Dwight Howard saga was utterly predictable. He is a big, fun loving personality that the win at all costs sports media can't seem to understand. Not all things are under our control and Dwight believes if a title comes his way, so be it, but he can't MAKE it happen. It must be his relaxed attitude that bothers people and has sparked way too many headlines, because if its anything else then I cry foul. He isn't wrong, and considering the competition, will need some major luck to even make the NBA Finals ever again. Kind of like how the marbles fell for the Spurs this post season.

As for the tankers and non tankers, you're spot on when it comes to the inevitably fierce battle for the 8th seed and worst overall record come next May. But the ultimate goal of every NBA team is unchanged and the most interesting thing will STILL be who can win the championship.

Friday, July 12, 2013

MLB at the Break: 2nd half thoughts & The Derby - Part two

MLB at the Break: 2nd half thoughts & The Derby - Part two
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (7-12-13)

[Part one - Let's knock some Dingers!]

True, true, the Home Run Derby has the stars. It would definitely stink without them, but you missed on your analogy. The Home Run Derby isn't repetitive, its completely different than the NBA dunk contest! The goal of the HR derby is to hit as many home runs as possible. That goal gets amazing and awesome when a guy is hitting dinger after dinger, fifteen, sixteen or more out of the park. It works in reverse too, as everyone wants the player to get at least one homer. That's a great show!

To compare it to the NBA dunk contest we have to change the rules. What if the HR Derby's objective was to hit the longest long ball? Each HR gets measured and the player has ten chances for the longest dinger. That's boring and that's what the dunk contest has become. Do your wildest and craziest dunk and then get a score for it. You have three shots, or whatever. This worked with the stars involved only because it was the stars, not because the idea itself is a good one. The NBA Dunk contest should copy what works for the MLB Home Run Derby. Give a player sixty seconds and let him dunk away. How many dunks will he get? Does he clang a few off the rim and will that cost him the crown? I love this new idea! I'd like to replace David Stern now, thank you.

Let's move on. How about that second half of the season coming up? You know, the half that matters. When we find out if a team is actually good or not. I'm liking the Dodgers chances right now of fulfilling my prophecy from May 1st and making the playoffs.

All that gibberish about multiple dunks and long home runs sounded just awful. But it did remind me of something actually interesting! Remember how in those "MLB The Show" video games they had a mini-game where there were locations on the field or items on the field that batters had to hit? It was like a non-home run derby, batting accuracy I suppose. Anyways, it was great fun and I would be totally in if they ever televised a real one, just to see who had the best bat control. I know this doesn't help the dunk contest but, come on, the most dunks in 60 seconds? Really?

Real quick, before we move on to the second half of the MLB season, David Wright and Robinson Cano picked their derby teammates. Wright went with Carlos Gonzalez (leads the NL in dingers) who was replaced by Pedro Alvarez because of injury, Bryce Harper (currently ranks second in the NL in awesomeness after Yasiel Puig) and Michael Cuddyer (apparently a hometown/childhood buddy of Wright's so we get it, tossing his friend a bone). Cano chose Prince Fielder (past derby king), Chris Davis (ML leader in home runs) and ... that's it. Supposedly he's asked Miguel Cabrera as well, but Miggy is waiting to see if his back is going to be healthy enough. If it isn't, who knows who Cano will take with him?

Update: The AL's final derby spot has been taken by Cuban phenom Yoenis Cespedes, who, I suppose, is literally the next best thing to getting Yasiel Puig in this thing.

I think the AL wins in a landslide but, individually, I kind of like Harper. I could see him going Josh Hamilton circa 2008 on this bitch (Of course, astute readers will recall that Hamilton actually lost that year's derby to Justin Morneau, but whatevs). With that being said, if we were to rank the contestants in likelihood of victory, the AL has to have something like three of the top four favorites.

Now, onto the real baseball coming up. The AL East looks like it is rounding into shape. Unfortunately for us, that shape has the Yankees in fourth place. Unless Jeter and A-Rod return with a vengeance, this team is not making the playoffs. They simply cannot score runs. I personally wouldn't mind if they dealt away one of their starting pitchers for a young bat, but that isn't exactly a Yankee thing to do. It wouldn't be quitting on the season either necessarily, since they have seven legit starting pitchers in line for the second half. But still, the Yankees are not ones to trade for prospects or deal away a strength.

The other AL team we are keeping our eyes on, the Angels, sit just 1.5 games behind the Dodgers! This impressive run LA has gone on has been matched nearly game for game by...LA. Now sure, the Angels are actually 9 games behind in the AL West, and stand little chance of making the playoffs. But you should not benefit by the suckiness of the NL West. Just because San Francisco has fallen off a cliff, Colorado came back to what we expected and San Diego stinks, does not mean you should get credit if the Dodgers make the playoffs. This is why I wanted it to be a strict record comparison: who finishes with a better record. Who cares about the standings? That's all arbitrary, like a win for a starting pitcher. Too much is out of their hands as far as a win goes. It's all about the xFIP baby! Get rid of those factors out of your control and hold a real apples to apples comparison. Or are you scared the Angels are going to pass your Dodgers? In other news, Matt Kemp is on the DL AGAIN.

Apples to Apples is all well and good, if not a tiresome board game after thirty minutes. But I'm sorry, you can have your Angels sitting at seven games over .500 and out of the playoffs come season's end. I'll take the Dodgers at a mere three games over .500, in first place in the NL West and heading to the post season. Hmm. I wonder which will be considered a successful season? The team that sits at home in October, or the one that won its division and is playing for a championship. The Dodgers are only 1.5 games out of first, by the way.

Also, let me throw your argument further back in your face. Yes, the NL West is a significantly weaker division than the AL West. That is non debatable. But comparing the two divisions is hypocritical and is apples to oranges. The Dodgers don't get to choose their competition, they only have the simple goal of being better than them. Same with the Angels. Prediction, the Dodgers and Angels finish with identical records. The Angels sit at home and the Dodgers head to the playoffs as division champs. That way I win without your asterisk.

More importantly, Derek Jeter returned to action yesterday with a solid performance at DH. So check off number one on your list please, assuming his MRI is negative. The Yankees' offense can be offensive, but its also quite powerful. Overall its been streaky, but with dominant starting pitching only improving down the stretch, I'm confident in our guys winning enough one and two run games to pull out a playoff spot. They may have to win the wild card game (thank you new system), but I'm fine with that.

In October what wins year after year? Its pitching. Hitting goes cold and pitching wins. Our hitting is already cold, so it can only heat up.  And last I checked the Yankees have a solid rotation and a stacked bullpen. I like our chances!

Monday, July 8, 2013

MLB at the Break: Let's knock some Dingers - Part one

MLB at the Break: Let's knock some Dingers - Part one
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (7-08-13)

Oy, this is embarrassing.

The 2013 MLB All-Star game rosters were announced over the weekend and they are, to be honest, pretty perfect.

There are so few mistakes it's just picking nits to go through them. Sure Carlos Gomez should be starting. I mean, he leads all of baseball in WAR. But he still made the team. As did your boy Andrew McCutchen and my two shortstops, Everth Cabrera and Jean Segura. And everyone's favorite flash in the pan, Yasiel Puig is going to make it as well. Putting him in the final five fan vote was kind of brilliant. It takes all the pressure off of the manager to select him, while knowing he is still going to make the roster. There isn't a major problem with anything on the entire National League roster.

On the AL side, things look pretty clean as well. The starting lineup is fine, considering the steady decline this past month exhibited by Alex Rios. My only beef comes in the form of the AL outfield reserves. Torii Hunter did not deserve to make this team. Ben Zobrist has been okay this season; same goes for Alex Gordon. I would have much rather seen Jacoby Ellsbury or Brett Gardner or both in a couple of those spots. But if the only thing we can gripe about is the reserves of one position of one league, the rosters are pretty damn excellent. Other than, you know, the fact that the American League final roster spot to vote on is between five middle relievers. How lame is that?

Two important questions come to mind. First, can we go back and edit last week's post to make it seem like we were aiming for a reverse jinx here? By exclaiming where America was going to mess up, we were really just trying to align the baseball gods to give us a great set of teams. Drop the "Mission Accomplished!" banner!

Secondly, which team looks better, i.e. who is going to win this thing?

Reverse Jinx baby! It worked and I'm totally taking credit for our tag team reverse fan voting jinx. The fans did a good job! I'm disappointed that neither Ellsbury or Gardner made the team (especially Gardner), but when we only have reserves to complain about you know something got done right. Only having a slew of middle relief pitchers to pick from for the American League final roster spot is a result of the stellar fan voting. David Robertson all the way baby! Puig is our National League guy. He better be. I'm flying the "Mission Accomplished" banner proudly outside my front door.

About the men on the field and who will secure home field advantage for their league come championship time. That honor will belong to the team from the American League.

It's all about pitching baby. Both leagues have stellar offenses to showcase, but the All-Star arms for the AL are kind of amazing. King Felix Hernandez, Yu Darvish, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Clay Buchholz (to name more than a few) handing things over to Mariano Rivera is lights out. Sure, sure, the NL offense will grab a run or three, but this rotation is shut down. Two innings per guy is more than one game, so doing some rudimentary math leads to an American League victory. AL wins five runs to three.

I feel like the All-Star game always falls second fiddle to the real deal derby the night before, the Home Run Derby. I LOVE this event! Its stayed fun and fresh year after year. The NBA should take a page from Major League Baseball to fix its dunk, read stunk, competition. What makes the HR derby so great is each participant is playing for charity. You have one fan per player sitting and cheering their guy on in the hopes of winning a new house. How awesome! They are beyond super fans, with a new home for their family at stake. Add to that the players' kids running around and high fiving their dads after a dinger. The excitement is palpable. Oh, and "Back, back, back" still makes me smile. Can't wait!

Got any requests for Robinson Cano and David Wright? They have yet to pick their teams, which is another tremendous idea in itself.

Hold on, let me first disagree with your All-star game pick. I actually think the AL has slightly better bats, but the National League has the loaded starting pitching. You can take those five from the AL; I'd rather have Clayton Kershaw, Matt Harvey, Adam Wainwright, Cliff Lee and Madison Bumgarner. Put it this way, if the managers run this thing like past years where the starters are rotated out by the third inning and they try to play as many guys as possible, the NL is going to win. The only chance the American League has is if Miguel Cabrera, Chris Davis, Trout and some of those other starters play nine innings. The AL reserves are not scoring against that pitching staff. Mark it down.

I'm with you though on the Home Run Derby. It is the main attraction. Just like the NBA, MLB's excitement showcase is the event before the All-Star game. I think the dunk contest is getting a bad rap though. Is it really that bad? 'We've seen every dunk imaginable so dunks get repetitive.' That is the main argument against it. How can anything be more repetitive than a home run derby? It is literally the same thing over and over. And sure they play for charity and they have the specific fan for each guy. That's all well and good. But you missed the biggest draw. The reason people still love the derby but are down on the dunk contest is because the top tier stars still do the derby! The dunk contest is low-name and no-name athletes who won't be ridiculed if they miss. There is no such fear from the Major Leaguers that they might get a goose egg. That's what I like.

Cano has it easy here picking the AL squad. He has to pick Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera. No-brainers. With his final slot, I'd personally love to see Jose Bautista. Wright does not have it so easy. The NL field is wide open. At the moment, the top guys in the NL in home runs are Carlos Gonzalez (24), Dominic Brown (23), and Pedro Alvarez (22). None of those guys tip my interest all that much. Here's the trio I would personally like to see: Bryce Harper, Joey Votto and...Yasiel Puig! Sure, I didn't want him on my starting roster but I sure as hell want to see him sock a few dingers! Make it happen Wright.

Friday, July 5, 2013

MLB All-Stars: Ballot predictions sure to Hate - Part two

MLB All-Stars: Ballot predictions sure to Hate - Part two
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (7-5-13)

[Part one - Yes, please stuff my Ballot box]

I talked AL predictions already, but as for the National League let's go through position by position again to find where the mistakes will lie. First Base will be fine. It will either go to Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt or Cincinnati's Joey Votto. No one else is close and no one else will come close.

Second Base gets a little interesting since a few guys have had good years. Daniel Murphy, Matt Carpenter and Brandon Phillips have all been solid if unspectacular and there's no big name here having a good enough year to steal the spot from one of these guys. We should be okay.

Shortstop is interesting for a different reason. Three guys are having monster seasons but I will hate who ends up starting; mark it down. Troy Tulowitzki will most likely win the vote but he is currently injured. The other two deserving candidates (Everth Cabrera and Jean Segura) are no-names in small markets. They will get beat out by someone like Andrelton Simmons. Simmons plays for the Braves and has been pretty good and is a good defensive shortstop. He may end up getting the nod just by playing in Atlanta.

Third Base is safe. Everyone stinks except David Wright. David Wright plays for a team who calls Citi Field their home. The All-Star game is being played at Citi Field. Third base is safe.

Catcher should also be safe assuming MVP candidate Yadier Molina doesn't get passed over for Buster Posey. This seems possible but improbable.

NL Outfield will play host to my final indiscretion. There are a number of deserving candidates but the clear top three are Carlos Beltran, Carlos Gomez and Carlos Gonzalez. My worry is that as many as all three may not win the vote. There are a couple of much bigger names who may usurp the starting spot. They come in the form of Ryan Braun (hasn't been that good and is now hurt), Yasiel Puig (came up too late to accumulate enough stats), Dominic Brown (Phillies' savior has home runs and nothing else), Bryce Harper (hasn't played enough to warrant a top three spot), Justin Upton (has really been awful after a scalding start). If one, two or three of these men start in the All-Star game, it will be ridiculous. Really if anyone who has a first name other than Carlos is starting in the NL outfield, I am going to be pissed.

So that's where I stand. Luckily, there are very few places for voters to make mistakes this season. They will still find a way to mess up the final AL outfield slot, NL shortstop and perhaps all of the NL outfield slots.

For America's pastime, Americans sure do make a ton of wrong decisions when it comes to the All-Star game.

Three mistakes out of seventeen positions is NOT an atrocity. If I was successful 80% of the time at everything then I'd already be a millionaire with a hefty yacht and some servants. I've got three of my own predictions that I'll hate come Saturday's lineup reveal, but your's require some serious argument.

You asked earlier if I would vote a Yankee over anyone and I said no, only if all stats were equal. Well I lied. I DO NOT want to see Alex Rios take the field over Brett Gardner. Gardner is a beast, like the flash on the base paths and in the outfield. I've been to one Yankees game this season and he had two web gems in that game alone, plus he's been putting up clutch hits night after night for a team sorely lacking in offense. I don't care if Rios' stats are better, Gardner gets my vote! Unfortunately, Gardner has dropped out of the top 15 vote getters for AL outfield. Torii Hunter in fifth? Really America!

I can understand, as a numbers purest, how the AL outfield will cause you displeasure, but NL shortstop and NL outfield? The National League shortstop position is lacking cache, to put it kindly. I get it, you want to see a lesser known get voted in since they've got the stats to warrant it. But if America doesn't know them, they aren't getting the vote! And if America doesn't know them, are they really deserving yet? I hope Everth Cabrera gets the spot, but it won't bother me either way. As for NL outfield, although it would be comical for all three men to be named Carlos, they don't all deserve it! I don't care if Bryce Harper has been injured, he can be on the team for what he did the second half of last year. And Yasiel Puig, he better make it. There is no one, I repeat NO ONE, who was been more exciting and dominant in the last month than Puig. I get it, he needs to earn his stripes, but hasn't his absolute domination of big league pitching proven he's worthy? Puig is in! One of the Carlos' is out. Now let me jump into my hate filled predictions before I really get on a tangent.

Three things I'll HATE about the All-Star lineups:

1 - Andrew McCutchen will not be starting in the NL outfield.
This is an atrocity! One of the best players on the best team in baseball is not starting the All-Star game. A bigger atrocity, the Pirates will end up with zero starters for the National League. How can Justin Upton beat out McCutchen and Harper? Upton is on my fantasy team. He had one great month, but that was April. Lately I wish I had a replacement for him. If Upton gets in for his April then Puig should be a lock for his June. Come on!

2 - I hate how nearly EVERY starting player is on the All-Star ballot.
I'm a Yankees fan, but MLB has put Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter and Kevin Youkilis on the ballot. (Leaving off Alex Rodriguez mind you) That's just dumb! We are allowed to write in our own candidates, so why list so many players at a position? Americans do in fact follow the sport of baseball, so we know who we want to write in, if necessary.

3 - If Pujols gets the starting AL first base slot I'll be pissed (thankfully he's behind in the voting). His season so far has been average. I personally think he's injured, but I'm no fan of past success being voted in as a starter over current success. Pujols can be on the bench. Please.

Well that was certainly misguided criticism. You asked for three mistakes and I gave you three mistakes that are SURE to happen. Furthermore, your math is all wrong! The fans are definitely not going 14 for 17 here.

A number of All-Star positions are no-brainers that even America cannot mess up. AL first and third base are great examples. The fans should not get credit for voting Miguel Cabrera as the starting third baseman. That's ludicrous.

Let's be generous and throw in all the starting spots where no player clearly deserves the vote, we're left with only 11 chances for the vote to go wrong. The fans will screw up three of these and messing up on those drops our grade to a C or C-. And that's being generous! I even gave the fans NL first base, where Goldschmidt or Votto WILL be starting. Suddenly, things aren't looking so good, am I right?

As for the men themselves, this NL outfield is going to be a disaster...especially if YOU vote the allowable 25 times. Yasiel Puig, really? He only has 114 more Major League at-bats than I do and I am not much of a prospect at this point.

Do you realize how good someone, ANYONE, can look in 114 at-bats? It's barely a sixth of the season; it's one month. It's going against San Diego and Philadelphia for 40% of those at-bats, which Puig has done. Poor Carlos Gomez. The guy is absolutely raking and he's not going to make the top three. Not because of Puig though and I am definitely with you on Justin Upton. He has been as bad this past month as Puig has been good. They're looking at each other from opposite ends of the spectrum at this point. Rewarding Upton with the All-star start would be a joke.

And by the way, don't worry about Pujols. He won't even make the roster, let alone start.

Carlos Gomez is clinging to the twelve spot, but there's always a chance the NL manager will add him to the All-star roster. And unfortunately Justin Upton is holding strong to the three spot, just ahead of Bryce Harper and Matt Holliday. He's been playing so poorly I wouldn't be surprised if he lands on the DL this week, so there's hope for the third Carlos yet!

One last thought on Puig, sure he's only had 114 at-bats, but there is no player I'd rather watch in the All-star game. Hopefully he isn't injured after running into the wall this week, but you want excitement? Get Puig on the NL roster and Brett Gardner on the AL roster and let the speedsters steal America's attention for a night. I want fireworks baby!

Monday, July 1, 2013

MLB All-Stars: Yes, please stuff my Ballot Box - Part one

MLB All-Stars: Yes, please stuff my Ballot Box - Part one
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (7-1-13)

MLB All-Star ballots are out. Voting is in its final days and we will know the starters on Saturday.

Never mind that having fans vote for these things is bound to generate problems. We'll find out those horrible, horrible mistakes in a few days. But this year's ballot has some real, head-scratchingly tough decisions. There are some easy ones too, like AL first base, AL third base or NL catcher. But then we get into positions like NL shortstop where three guys have legit claims to the starting spot; and AL shortstop where probably no one deserves to even make the All-Star team, let alone start.

Which begs the question, is getting the starting nod really the fair way to reward the best season a player is having? Not only is playing the ninth inning more important to the game itself than playing the first inning. But should we just elect the nine best players from each league, regardless of position, and have the managers fill out the rest of the lineup in reverse?

Maybe it's just me but I get a little queasy electing someone to an all-star game who doesn't deserve it. Let the managers do that dirty work later on. Let me pick the guys who are having the very best seasons, regardless of team, regardless of position, regardless of past success: just based on the numbers. That's the way it should be.

The fans are probably going to do something stupid anyways, like vote Derek Jeter as AL starting shortstop. So allow me the satisfaction of putting both Everth Cabrera AND Jean Segura on the NL squad, when neither one is probably going to win out over Troy Tulowitzki when the votes are counted.

By the way, as someone with a heart and loyalties and such, do you vote Yankees ahead of more deserving players on your ballot? Brett Gardner comes to mind here. He's had a pretty solid first half. He probably doesn't deserve to make the starting outfield, but it wouldn't be egregious. Are you one to just blindly vote him in because he wears the pinstripes?

In the same vein, will you put someone slightly less deserving in as starting AL DH just so you don't have to vote for David Ortiz?

The MLB All Star balloting is a never ending conversation, riddled with controversy. I love it! For the players, getting the starting nod has to mean a lot for the ego. Not only are you having a great season, but its so great that fans nationally recognize your success. Either that, or you've been so great in the past that you're still recognized as one of the best. Win, win for the players, especially the ones with substantial careers. But since the All Star game is for the fans and takes place mid season, its not exactly rewarding anyone. The best half seasons will get acknowledged, if not by the fans, then by the managers, but beyond that its more of a party. The players in the game don't care which inning they participate in. The game barely matters in the first place. Yes, yes, home field advantage for the World Series. Like that means a lick to the players in July. They are only beginning to think playoffs, with the World Series still a struggling goal.

Being an undeserved All Star is like a badge of honor. You must have done something right at some point in time. And I LOVE that someone from each team has to make it. Its an event for the fans and having every club represented ensures this. Each team certainly has its own All Star, even if they are not one of the top nine in the league. Its great fun to vote for your team's guys and I have little issue with the current system. Again, this is an exhibition game basically.

I can smell the meat of your distress, you want the best of the best in the game. A true showcase of strength. How's that working out for the NFL? They chorale the best together with a full season's worth of stats and no gives a crap. The NBA and NHL go mid season with little drama. But the MLB All Star game gets the spotlight, the mid summer classic. Like all things baseball, its glorified to no end. I won't vote Derek Jeter into the game this year, but his place on last year's squad was totally warranted by the end of the season. He had a great year and as a future hall of famer, I had no issue with him making the team.

I love your final question and for me its a grey area. All things being equal, I pick the Yankee every time. Being slightly less deserving is a close call and I'd probably lean pro Yankee in that case as well. I don't got anti Red Sox. Hating the Yankees is Boston's thing and it doesn't go in reverse for me. But I'd definitely start a Yankee if its even a close comparison. Otherwise no, get the All Star in the game. I don't like stuffing the ballot box.

Prediction time! What three things will you hate about the final All Star lineups?

Predicting the stupidity of others is a tall task. Also, it is hard to know which fan bases will come out in droves to irrationally support one of their players who is either (a) having a breakout season but still isn't on that all-star level or (b) is the best player for a team making surprising waves but, again, isn't worthy of an all-star appearance. That being said, I do have some guesses as to where America will infuriate me most.

It won't be AL First Base. Chris Davis is a lock there. He is dominating the position and plays for a popular team. Done and done.

It won't be AL Second Base since no one has broken away as the most deserving candidate. I could see Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia or Ian Kinsler winning. Jason Kipnis may be having the best year, but his deliriously atrocious beginning to the season may have put him out of the minds of anyone who doesn't live in Cleveland. Jose Altuve might also make it, if nothing else then as the resident Astro.

AL Shortstop is a similar situation in that no one deserves it. JJ Hardy has been okay. A certain result may surprise me, but if it's someone other than Hardy I wouldn't be upset by any means.

Third Base for the American League will have the same result as first base. Miguel Cabrera will win it in a landslide. Situation (a) described above would have been possible for Orioles fans and Manny Machado, but not with the season Miggy Cabrera is having. He's too good.

For Catcher, I think Joe Mauer deserves the start. He may get overlooked though because of consistency. The Astros' Jason Castro has been solid, as have a few other guys. Nothing would upset me here, even if Mauer gets slighted.

Now AL Outfield is where controversy has room to develop and it most certainly will. There are two locks for the three spots: guys who play in big cities and are having deserving years. Those two are Mike Trout from the Angels and Adam Jones of the O's. The last spot should go to Alex Rios but I'm afraid it won't. The potential spot stealers all play in the AL East and can wrack up huge vote numbers. Jacoby Ellsbury, Nate McLouth, Brett Gardner, Nick Markakis and Jose Bautista are all having years that put them on the precipice of making the All-Star game, but none deserve it. The worry here is that they all could easily tally more votes than Rios, who is having the best overall season. Even as a Yankees fan, I wouldn't be the least upset if Ellsbury stole Rios' spot. Either of those Orioles players starting in the All-Star game would be infuriating.

That wraps up the American League because DH is a non-issue. David Ortiz deserves to get the start and he will. As for the NL... [read Part two].