Read Everything That Dunks Must Converge

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by Bryan Harvey

Truth & lies in Pixar's 'The Good Dinosaur'

Truth & lies in Pixar's 'The Good Dinosaur'
by Bryan Harvey

A world of child soldiers & cowboys

A world of child soldiers & cowboys
by Bryan Harvey

To their own devices: Pablo Larrain's 'The Club'

To their own devices: Pablo Larrain's 'The Club'
by Bryan Harvey

Tuesday Morning Relievers: An Introduction

April 20, 2010

Welcome to our new weekly column, where we do our best to recap the teams we love and the stories that captivated us the most in this week of baseball.
Beltway Breakdown:
Agile, Hostile, National-
Last year, I became a fan of the Nationals for the way they lost. They would score seven runs and find a way to allow the opposition to score ten runs. It was right out of a video game, making their games comical and incredibly entertaining. This year, I have become a fan of the Nationals for the way they win and lose. Don't get me wrong, they still give up a boatload of runs, have absolutely no bench, and have yet to find a rotation worthy of the MLB parks they play in. But this team has some fight in it. They showed it in a loss on Sunday to the Brewers and on Thursday in a win over the Phillies. Against the Brew Crew, Jason Marquis and Miguel Batista combined for one of the worst displays of pitching in this teams short history in Washington, allowing the most runs scored in a single inning (10) since baseball returned to the district. Yet instead of allowing the Brewers to turn the match-up into a glorified practice, they scrapped their way back into the game scoring seven of their own runs. They fell short, but the fact that they even put up a fight is something new to fans that have been watching this team over the years. Then there was the aforementioned game in Philadelphia where they were down 4-1 after the sixth, when they went on to score six runs giving them a 7-4 lead after the top of the ninth and Matt Capps the opportunity to close out the game.

As fans, there shouldn't be a lot we expect. We shouldn't expect yearly championships, nor should we expect every prospect to be as good as advertised; but we can expect our teams to play all-out no matter what the score is. It may be as unlikely as every prospect fulfilling our often ridiculous expectations or those annual championships, but it's attainable and amounts to a reasonable request. Well, the Nationals have delivered and due to that I'm finding myself rooting for this team for more than their entertainment value.

Odious O's-
While the Nationals posted a respectable 7-6 record (after a tough start to the season that included six games against the defending NL champs), the Orioles have limped lifelessly out of the gate to a league-worst 2-12 record. What makes matters worse is the rumor that Cal Ripken Jr., the teams most beloved icon, offered to come back to the team in some capacity and was summarily declined. The job would most likely have Ripken tutoring prospects while learning the administrative side of things, probably for a future job in the front office. This was first reported by Ken Rosenthal and then quickly refuted by owner Peter Angelos.

To be clear, I don't bring this up to point out the evils of Peter Angelos, though he clearly is Satan incarnate. I mention it because after hearing this any sane person would wonder why this hasn't already happened. This is as much of a win-win scenario as you could find for a team struggling to fill seats and win games. For the short term, fans come to the park just for the chance to get a glimpse of their hero. In the long term, your young hitters/fielders improve from learning at the feet of a legend and you may just find a suitable replacement for Andy McPhail. And for his services, Cal learns a new trade. Win-win, all around. So, why hasn't this happened already? Your guess is as good as mine.

Dodgers (at a glance): 6-6 record, two straight series won, 2nd in team batting average, 2nd in runs scored, 28th in team ERA, 3 losses by one run, 4 losses by bullpen, one reliever sent packing, one reliever returning from injury, and one visa issue resolved.

Wait Till Next Year, Verse No. 103-
After the collective kick to the groin that was basketball season for me and the teams I enjoy, I'm glad the Cubs decided to get off to a steallar 5-8 start, with arguably the worst and least experienced bullpens in the NL. Alfonso Soriano can't catch, steal bases, or hit homers anymore. Geovony Soto and Carlos Zambrano lost a ton of weight, but still haven't recovered their abilities from the 08 season. And Lou Piniella looks like an old dog that needs to be put out of his misery. He literally sounds more and more like he's knee deep in the phase of his life where he needs to crank up the hearing aide after asking Derrek Lee "What?" "You gotta speak up sonny, I can't hear so good anymore."

I don't know why I had/have expectations for this to be the team to end the curse that seems to have transferred over to my own life in the form of endless bad luck (Ask Langston, Teach, or anyone else that knows me. It's relatively eerie but makes a lot of sense that I'm a Cubs fan). The starting pitching has been really good, with a 4-2 record, 3.71 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and 62 K's in 68 innings. If you throw out Zambrano's flaming bag of canine feces performance on Opening Day, these numbers are even more impressive. I honestly like our rotation top to bottom as being one of, if not the best in the whole NL. And with the arrival of hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo from Texas, the hitting still should be better. Right now it's not, with the offense in the lower half of the NL rankings for all of the major offensive categories other than HR's. They're 15th in runs, 13th in RBI, 10th in OPS, yet 4th in HR's. The majority of their offense has been someone hitting a homerun with no one on base once or twice a game.

The basic template so far has been something like this: Starter goes for 6-7 innings giving up only 1-2 runs. Offense gets shut down for the most part, but gets 1-3 runs. Bullpen comes into the game and destroys everything that said starter worked tirelessly to build, ruining everything. Offense tries to come back, but falls just short and Harry Caray cries into his Budweiser can in heaven.

The Illegitimate Step-child-
I should probaby cover the loathsome White Sox too while I'm living in this area for the time being. Just a quick background on the reason I don't like them. My whole entire family, and most of my relatives all like the White Sox. If  you're born where I was born in the South Side of the city (famous South Side alums: Kanye West, Common, Dwyane Wade, and that Michael Flattley guy), you're supposed to like the Sox, while the North Siders cheer for the Cubs. I, however, fell under the spell of Harry Caray and day baseball as a 7-8 year old, as I bucked tradition and chose the Cubs. It goes without saying that in 2005 I heard about how awesome the White Sox were time and time again. It goes without saying that the hatred grew exponentially.

The Sox are 4-9 and in last place in the AL Central. Ozzie is already starting to get a little miffed at his hitters. I'm paraphrasing, but he was quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times as saying he sleeps like a baby, waking up every two hours and bleeping crying because his hitters can't get hits. So there's always Ozzie's potential meltdown factor to get excited about. Starting pitching should be the strong point here, but Gavin Floyd and Freddy Garcia both got lit up last time out. Their offense is also ranked in the bottom half of all the relevant categories in the AL except HR's. Optimism is not high in the City of Wind right now for either of the cities' two baseball teams, even though the season has just begun.

Fantasy Minute-
It's still very early, but here's five players that stand out so far in the American League as playing just a tad bit over their heads and above their reps so far:

Scott Podsednik, OF, Kansas City: Former South Sider Scotty Pods is leading the AL in hits, steals, and average as of Sunday's games. I don't believe he's ever led the league in any of the above ever in his life.

Ty Wigginton, Util, Baltimore: If you told me he'd be leading the O's in HR and RBI after two weeks, I would have told you you're confusing the Norfolk AAA team with the major league roster.

Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Cleveland: Choo was on my fantasy team last year, but he and Franklin Guitierrez from Seatlle are making the leap to superstars as we speak. He's top 5 in HR, RBI, and runs, top 10 in avg. and steals, and has whatever the word for rifle is in Korean for a throwing arm. If Cleveland keeps playing decent, he could be a top 5 MVP candidate.

Dana Eveland, SP, Toronto: Discarded by an Oakland team who has gotten really good starting pitching in its own right, Eveland is Toronto's 5th starter, yet he's also 2-0 with a top 10 ERA and WHIP. If he's still in the top 10 by July, we might have something. But still, an impressive start for an afterthought.

Alex Gonzalez, SS, Toronto: He's always been servicable, the major league shortstop version of eating McDonald's dollar menu. Much like when you go get double cheeseburgers because you don't feel like cooking or driving anywhere else and paying a lot of money, Gonzalez is the SS you go and get as an owner when you don't feel like paying an arm and a leg, yet still want some value.  This season however, he's hitting with power not seen before, stepping in to Aaron Hill's spot in the order with 4 HR for the suprising Blue Jays.

Photo Sources: 1, 2,


Teach said...

Not related to baseball...but did anyone else think that there would ever come a day where Kanye might actually be a better rapper (at the moment) than Common? I'm shocked and appalled, especially when I see that Common will not play a basketball player in a movie--it's like the guy wants to be a stereotype now after years of fighting it. Strange.

April 21, 2010 at 6:48 PM
Langston said...

Common seems to be on the Ice Cube career path. 20 years ago no one saw him appearing in movies let alone producing sitcoms from TBS. Give Common 10 more years and he will be producing police dramas for CBS.

April 21, 2010 at 8:59 PM
Teach said...

Yeah, but Ice Cube actually had some decent roles. Common just plays silent gangsters. I think the most lines he's ever had were the five he had in Wanted: Yeah. That's cool. and Use this gun.

April 21, 2010 at 9:37 PM
Russ said...

How did Jason Capel get a Division 1 head coaching job? Was he even an assistant coach anywhere?

April 21, 2010 at 10:00 PM
Langston said...

He was assistant last year for the man he's replacing, Buzz Petersen. Which is only one year shorter than Jeff's time spent as an assistant before nabbing the VCU job. They're a family of coaches, and I'm willing to bet he will have a pretty good career.

April 21, 2010 at 10:14 PM
Langston said...

Teach: I'd take a guess that Common is just not that good of an actor, or he would have bigger roles. As for me, I am more concerned with Jason Lee's career path. He started out with lead roles in some of Kevin Smith's best films which eventually led to a pretty good sitcom on NBC, and finally, what is sure to be a terrible cop show on TNT.

April 21, 2010 at 10:36 PM
berndon4 said...

Langston: I love how our baseball post went over so well that the commentary involves Common, Kanye, and Buzz Peterson. I think for this week I'm just going to write about what I had for dinner and what the weather was yesterday.

April 26, 2010 at 7:39 PM
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