By Asa Schuster
The Boston Red Sox hadn’t lost a World Series game in almost 27 years, but as the errors favored the Cardinals in Game 2, gone is the Fenway Park advantage as the teams venture to St. Louis tied 1-1.
Cards starter Michael Wacha had his roughest start of the postseason (just the 13th start of his career), but in 114 pitches (career high) over six innings, he was able to notch his fourth win in October thanks to his team picking him up with a three-run seventh.
Trailing 2-1, David Freese set the table with a one-out, eight-pitch walk, before Jon Jay reached on a single to end Boston starter Jon Lackey’s night.
Enter Craig Breslow on the mound for the Sox, the Yale University graduate with a double major in molecular biophysics and biochemistry and supposedly the ‘smartest player’ in Major League Baseball.
He walks Daniel Descalso to load the bases, surrenders a sacrifice to Matt Carpenter to lock the scores, but on the play Breslow throws the ball into the left field seats, whilst attempting to hose Jay at third.
Jay scores, Cards lead 3-2.
Breslow could probably write a thesis on the biophysics and biochemistry that makes Carlos Beltrán tick, but instead he feeds Beltrán an outside pitch that he handles comfortably to right field.
Descalso scores, cards lead 4-2, Breslow exits the game, and there’s a new ‘smartest player’ in the Majors now.
The Cards bullpen then muscled-up as Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal combined to strike out six Sox in the final three innings.
October 27, 1986 at Shea Stadium was Boston’s last loss in the Fall Classic, after they peeled off eight consecutive wins for two championships with the common denominator of both titles being the damage punctuated by the bat of David Ortiz.
Throughout Boston’s recent postseason success, Ortiz’s production has been the most spectacular and consistent source of offense, as the Sox have become accustomed to winning games in October thanks to Ortiz’s late game heroics.
He gave them the lead in Game 2 with an opposite-field shot over the Monster, but as it turns out, the sixth inning isn’t late enough when compared to his body of work.
Besides, how much can you rely on a strictly 2-tool superstar?
In regards to the defensive half of the game, Ortiz can’t help the Red Sox, but as the series moves to the National League ball park, either Big Papi plays the field or Boston need some other big bats to make some noise.
By Asa Schuster
Fenway played its first ‘home-field advantage card’ of the series in the opening inning of the opening game of the 2013 World Series.
The crusty old ball park dealt another blow in the 2nd inning and it was downhill from there for the visiting Cardinals, who fell 8-1.
Cards 6’7” starter Adam Wainwright bumped his head on the roof of the antiquated Fenway dugout moments before taking the mound and if not suffering a mild concussion, his equilibrium and coordination was compromised enough to offset his usual sharpness and command.
The effects immediately spilled over to the leadoff at-bat, walking Jacoby Ellsbury, giving up a two-strike single to Dustin Pedroia, before Cards shortstop Pete Kozma allowed David Ortiz to reach on an error and load the bases.
Kozma, who mishandled a potential double-play flip from Matt Carpenter was possibly suffering from a sympathy concussion.
Mike Napoli then took the first steps to riding himself of that disgusting Texas Rangers World Series taste in his mouth by smoking a 2-0 cut-fastball to the wall in center for a bases-clearing double.
Just 23 pitches into the World Series and the Cardinals were ominously off-kilter and facing an uphill battle.
It got worse for the wobbly Wainwright the next inning, he appeared even more uncomfortable when he and catcher Yadier Molina failed to organize the capture of a routine pop-up by lead-off Stephen Drew.
Wainwright and Molina met halfway between the mound and the plate and both watched as the ball fell safely to the ground between them.
A David Ross single and another error from Kozma set the table for Pedroia, who singled in a run and in turn set the table for the destructive Ortiz to add to his postseason highlight reel.
On cue, Ortiz sent a blast to right field, a grand slam if it weren’t for Carlos Beltrán’s gold glove reaching over Fenway’s outdated five-foot wall in right.
But while making the catch, Beltrán’s rib cage had smacked into the top edge of the wall as he hustled back to make the play.
Beltrán had finally reached the World Series after a decorated 16-season career, littered with clutch post-season moments, only to be claimed as another visiting victim of Fenway Park.
And where the Cards once had the mercurial Beltrán in the lineup, now stood Jon Jay a discarded and depreciated component of the Cardinals’ roster.
Ortiz would later get his home run in the seventh, a two run shot over the bullpen in right.
Matt Holliday sent one over the ‘Boston Strong’ sign on the Green Monster to finally get the Cards on the board in the top of the ninth, but Boston were way too strong and had gained an edge from the unforgiving edges of their ageing fortress.
Together the Cards bumped their heads, hurt their ribs and ultimately began the World Series on the wrong foot, the hometown Red Sox simply held serve and Fenway Park was the winner in Game 1.
The Cleveland Indians closed out the regular season riding a ten-game winning streak to charge into the playoffs for the first time since Trot Nixon was patrolling the outfield for them.
Somehow during those ten victories relief pitcher Bryan Shaw emerged as the winning pitcher on three occasions and also picked up a save, as the Tribe gave Cleveland more clutch in one month than LeBron did in seven whole years.
The streak was sparked on September 19th, when Shaw entered a 1-1 game against the Astros in the top of 11th and retired all three batters faced.
In the bottom of the dig, Yan Gomes reached on a single, advanced on a single by Asdrubal Cabrera and a Mike Aviles walk, before being knocked in by Matt Carson to hand Shaw the win.
The next night, the Indians once again trumped Houston 2-1 in just seven innings as Shaw struck out three of the four batters he faced during a perfect four-out save.
Shaw registered his fourth win of the month in bizarre circumstances on the 24th, thanks to Jason Giambi’s incredible long ball in the bottom of the ninth, after Indians’ closer Chris Perez surrendered two home runs and the lead in the top of the frame.
Shaw cleaned up the mess in just three pitches, inducing a foul-out from Marcus Semien, before Giambi walked the game off with his third pinch-hit bomb of the season, his tenth career walk-off, while becoming the oldest player in MLB history to hit a walk-off home run.
Two nights later, Shaw notched his fifth win in September during a five-out relief appearance over the fifth and sixth innings against the Twins.
In total, Shaw threw 15.1 innings over 13 appearances (Indians won 11 of those games), giving up just eight hits with no runs, while striking out 15.
This time a year ago, Shaw was cleaning out his locker in Arizona as the San Francisco Giants began their journey to the World Series.
His five wins in September were as many as former Cy Young winner and Giants starter Barry Zito had all season and one more win than Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong.
The Indians host the Wild Card game on Wednesday, an 11th straight win by Shaw and the Tribe gets them a Division Series date against their manager Terry Francona’s former team the Boston Red Sox.
1 Octubre 2013
All Alfonso Soriano wanted to do was be a Yankee, and 10 years later he was granted his second stint in the Bronx and rediscovered the swing that helped bring two World Series championships to the franchise.
In his first full month as a Yankee since 2003, Soriano stepped it up from his heydays in New York and notched some milestones while smashing 11 home runs and 31 RBI.
Soriano’s change of pinstripes saw him swing blow-for-blow with Miguel Cabrera during August, despite a slow start where he managed just one long ball in the first eight games.
His bat began to warm up on August 11, when he took Justin Verlander deep for his 2000th career hit during a 5-4 victory over the Tigers.
Two nights later, he tagged a pair of dingers off Jason Vargas and Joe Blanton for six RBI in the Yanks’ 14-7 rout of the Angels.
Super Alfonso then got the tape measure rolling against Jared Weaver in the next game, peeling off a pair of 400-foot bombs for seven RBI in an 11-3 victory.
While some teams were more concerned about taking it upon themselves to police the return of Alex Rodriguez, Soriano quietly went about his business from the clean-up spot.
In Boston two games later, Soriano launched a 409-foot shot over the Green Monster as the Yankees claimed the series opener 10-3.
On the 21st, Soriano broke an 0-17 slide at the plate and a 2-2 score in the eighth against the Blue Jays when he sent a R.A. Dickey knuckleball over the left field wall to help lift his team to an 8-4 win.
Soriano gave Toronto more headaches on the 28th, gaining some revenge on the Yankees’ nemesis J.A. Happ with a pair of long-balls in the 7-1 victory, the second shot marking his 400th career home run.
In total, Super Alfonso’s bat accounted for ten home runs and 27 RBI in 16 wins for New York in August.
Fresh from his gap decade away from the Bronx, Super Alfonso is back as if nothing happened, but the rest of New York’s ageing roster have to follow his lead if they’re going to have one last hurrah.
2 Septiembre 2013
Johnny Manziel had his Miley Cyrus moment on Saturday, swapping twerking for taunting.
Johnny Football emerged from one of the most scrutinised off-seasons for a player in the history of college football, only to add more fuel to fire with his on-field antics in Texas A&M’s opener against Rice.
He started proceedings by ‘Tebowing’ on the sideline, before diverting directly away from Tebow’s squeaky clean image during a brash display of playmaking brilliance coupled with sophomoric showboating.
After all, let’s remember Johnny Football is a sophomore, and much like Cyrus used her VMA performance last Sunday to shock the masses; Manziel used his return to enrage the college football community.
He scrambled and ran as only Johnny Football can, and matched his performance with gesture enriched smack talk.
His cameo lasted for five drives, where he threw just eight pass attempts, but connected for three touchdowns and made a lasting impression on the viewing public.
Johnny and Miley aren’t too dissimilar; two supremely talented 20-year-olds, that stand as undeniable idols for the next generation of American boys and girls.
Neither of them are old enough to buy alcohol, but they both seem to know their way around a bottle, red party cup or keg.
Unfortunately, Miley is old enough to twerk and Johnny is old enough to party, and he’s getting pretty good at partying.
He may have sat out of the first half against Rice after being slapped on the wrist by the NCAA, but he continued his eight-month party since winning the Heisman as a freshman last December.
The way things are going he’s looking to party on any given Saturday afternoon in the SEC this season.
And he can’t stop, and he won’t stop.
1 Septiembre 2013
Last week we put forth Russell Carrington Wilson as the most likeable quarterback in the NFL.
For us the decision was simple, however there was an interesting selection process that led to Russell Carrington Wilson coming out on top.
To clearly demonstrate how we reached our conclusion, we’d now like to show our working for the equation, we’ve got nothing to hide.
Below is the reasoning behind our likeability scale of all 32 projected starting quarterbacks for the upcoming NFL season;
In order of likeability:
Firstly, just to reinforce Russell Carrington Wilson’s top ranking, we’d like to point out that Russell Carrington Wilson’s middle name is Carrington.
Secondly, RG3 is just that, a close second. The Japanese African-American medical-marvel Heisman Academic and Track & Field All-American is almost too polite and well spoken for our liking. Could he be the devil in disguise?
Brady, Peyton, Eli and Rodgers are all too talented not to be hated.
Kaepernick creates fear, and fear breeds hate.
Alex Smith made us all uncomfortable last season and none of it was his fault.
Drew Brees is a hero to most, but he fraternizes with an unsavory bunch.
Flacco got paid, overpaid.
Matt Ryan is a little bit Kenneth Parcell from 30 Rock.
Andrew Luck talks funny.
Romo, Rivers and Cutler are all boobs.
Cam Newton seems to like being unliked.
Bradford, Stafford and Ponder are waiting to do something.
Brandon Weeden is a former New York Yankee and now lives and works in Cleveland.
Andy Dalton isn’t kidding us, so he must be kidding himself.
Matt Schaub doesn’t even like Matt Schaub.
Carson Palmer keeps lingering around like a stale fart.
Josh Freeman, Ryan Tannehill, Blaine Gabbert and Jake Locker have never been fantasy drafted, nor been picked up off fantasy free agency. They might as well be invisible, do you even know who they play for? We don’t!
Mark Sanchez; please.
We can’t even bring ourselves to mention Kolb.
Vick is left-handed.
22 Agosto 2013
It was just over a year ago when Russell Wilson won over Pete Carroll’s heart and the starting quarterback position at the Seattle Seahawks.
The overwhelming combination of his charismatic charm, maturity, composure, decision making and overall on-field performance was too much for Carroll to resist.
It’s a little known fact that the custom voice selection on Carroll’s GPS device is actually Russell Wilson’s voice.
Russell Wilson went on to win over his team and the entire Seahawks organization, and has clearly become the most likeable quarterback in the NFL.
The likeability turned into love for the Pacific Northwest fan base once they got a strong whiff of what Russell Wilson was cooking.
The replacement refs liked Russell Wilson so much, they awarded that game winning touchdown to Golden Tate that was actually an interception by the Packers’ M.D. Jennings.
That play proved to be the difference in the Seahawks undefeated season at CenturyLink Field in 2012, and more significantly if the replacement refs didn’t like Russell Wilson so much we wouldn’t have gotten back the real referees as soon, thanks Russell Wilson.
Although Russell Wilson appears to be the perfect quarterback, he’s a few inches shorter than the ideal height for an NFL QB.
However, thanks to Russell Wilson’s advanced understanding of physics and mathematics he’s been able to scientifically adjust and compensate for the alleged limitations of his reported 5’11” frame.
It was because of his short stature that 31 other teams overlooked Russell Wilson in the 2012 draft, which has made him the perfect quarterback for the Seahawks.
Russell Wilson has been known to help teammates file generous tax returns, re-finance their home loans, make profitable stock market moves, while helping reformat and backup hard drives, hook up wireless routers, home entertainment systems and perform other technical household tasks.
So if Russell Wilson is so heady at providing financial advice, the obvious question is why hasn’t he renegotiated his minuscule rookie contract of four years for $2.99 million?
This is because Russell Wilson has the foresight and patience to package himself as a longterm investment project.
By projecting a dedicated team orientated approach and maintaining the current harmony of the squad, Russell Wilson knows his longterm Russell Wilson project will yield greater returns later down the track.
Russell Wilson will trouble the Seahawks payroll for only $526,517 in 2013, making himself a bargain asset and the best bang-for-buck player in the league.
Ultimately Russell Wilson knows the fans will love him for playing for less in the short term, helping build a trusting bond with the public and besides he makes a fortune on E-Trade by night anyway.
Also, Russell Wilson’s agent won’t be applying any pressure to management to renegotiate his contract because his agent is Russell Wilson.
It’s also astounding how much Russell Wilson understands about the importance of effective off-field operations and marketing strategies.
You can often find Russell Wilson in the Seahawks ticketing office offering his top-notch customer service support to the public either in person, by phone or email and social media.
It was on Russell Wilson’s advice to management to draft Australian defensive tackle Jesse Williams in the 2013 draft with the thought of instantly expanding the Seahawks fan base to an entire new country.
Williams has been sidelined by injury throughout training camp and the preseason, but it doesn’t matter as Australia now has an adopted NFL team to purchase licensed merchandise from, including Russell Wilson branded gear.
Russell Wilson is so much more than a ‘quarter’-back, he’s a ‘whole’-back, he’s got his whole team’s whole back and he carries his team on his back in accordance to all occupational health and safety codes of the Seahawks and the NFL to ensure the health and safety of himself, his team and opponents.
15 Agosto 2013
Smack-bang in the middle of the American League Central and deep in the heart of America lies a forgotten team striving to surpass perennial mediocrity and achieve relevancy.
In order to initiate this type of paradigm shift, the emphasis on being able to win baseball games has become paramount to the cause.
In the case of the Kansas City Royals, the man entrusted with securing small leads late in the game and converting that advantageous position into a victory is their closing pitcher Greg Holland.
Standing at the average American male height of 5’10”, Holland typically unleashes his fastball at an average of 95 mph and has topped out at 100 mph this season.
Holland was anything but ‘average’ during July, where he set the benchmark for closers by converting all of his 11 save opportunities, as the Royals won 15 games during the month, including their final eight games in a row.
In his 11 appearances, Holland gave up just one run, which was knocked in by an Adam Jones triple on July 23.
Jones represented the tying run on third with no outs, but Holland responded masterfully by retiring the next three batters he faced, starting with the Major League-leader in home runs Chris Davis, who struck out chasing a pitch in the dirt.
Holland then induced grounders from J.J. Hardy and Henry Urrutia to notch a 3-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
Exactly a week earlier, Holland was on the bump at Citi Field in the seventh inning of the All-Star game, helping hold a 3-0 win and home field advantage in the World Series for the AL.
Holland preserved a pair of 1-0 wins over division neighbours the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers, while in saves against the Oakland A’s and New York Yankees he struck out the side on each occasion.
In total, Holland gave up nine hits and struck out 15 with just one walk and one run in 11 innings of work.
Kansas City started the month four games below .500, finished it two games over parity, and haven’t had a team finish above .500 since 2003, a squad that featured ageless wonders Raul Ibanez and Carlos Beltran.
The greatest Royal of all, George Brett was in his prime the last time Kansas City made the post-season, their World Series championship run in 1985.
The Royals are still a ways from making the playoffs, but they’re in the hunt and they’re transforming some close games into all-important victories thanks to the above-average right arm of their top-line closer Greg Holland.
2 Agosto 2013