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2010 ALCS Preview: Cliff Lee Has More Than One Reason To Beat the Yankees

It all makes sense. There should never have been any doubt in anyone’s mind that in The Year of the Pitcher, some of the better arms in the American League will be fighting for the Pennant beginning with Game One on Friday night.

Cliff Lee is, of course, Cliff Lee, and depending on who you talk to, C.C. Sabathia (and no matter who you talk to, you can’t deny that he’s the Yankees Ace, he won 21 games and topped 230 innings for the fourth straight year) is C.C. Sabathia. They are the veteran anchors of the staffs that feature up and coming arms in C.J. Wilson and Phil Hughes.

Hmm, on second thought, scrap those two paragraphs and understand this: other then some of that old fashioned dominance from Cliff Lee (duh), this very well may be a high scoring series. Why? Because it’s the Yankees. It’s the Rangers. It’s the ALCS and not the NLCS. And there are some pretty huge sticks playing in this series.

With that said, who the heck is supposed to come away with this year’s pennant? Since Cliff Lee was forced to pitch in Game 5 of the ALDS against the Rays and he can only throw twice (Games 3 and 7) in this series, which begs for four wins against the powerfully expensive New York lineup?

We can start by looking at both teams pitching because pitching is the basis for everything, especially in the postseason, even in the ALCS. And we can start by taking a look at the graph below because, frankly, nobody really likes to read anymore than they have to.


Rangers ALCS Rotation


Yankees ALCS Rotation


Game One

C.J. Wilson

15-8, 3.35, 204

Game One

C.C. Sabathia

21-7, 3.18, 237

Game Two

Colby Lewis

12-13, 3.72, 201

Game Two

Phil Hughes

18-8, 4.19, 176

Game Three

Cliff Lee (SE+TX)

12-9, 3.18, 212

Game Three

Andy Pettitte

11-3, 3.28, 129

Game Four

Tommy Hunter

13-4, 3.73, 128

Game Four

A.J. Burnett

10-15, 5.26, 186

Game Five*



Game Five*



Game Six*



Game Six*



Game Seven*



Game Seven*




If you look at everything presented, even though we’re looking at stats that are relatively simple, if we wanted to we could go into WHIP, Quality Starts, K/9IP and even WAR, but that’s not necessary at this stage in the season. Reason being: we are looking at a short series with two of the remaining four best teams in the league.

Anything can and will happen. I don’t care if Robinson Cano beat out Josh Hamilton in Wins Above Replacement by 0.1 during the regular season because everyone knows if Hamilton goes 2-18 again the Rangers will have a tough time winning anything, even if Lee pitched every single game.

The fact of the matter is, the Rangers got simply superb and consistent pitching from their front four starters. During the season not one arm had an ERA over 3.73, and the only reason Tommy Hunter threw 128 innings is because he missed all of April and May (theoretically 60 innings right there given how Hunter performed when he returned).

The matchups in this series are about as easy to call as a player using PEDs. Anyone can win.

Game 1 features Wilson and Sabathia, two left handed power pitchers with high strikeout totals and an arsenal of deadly off speed pitches. Sabathia is the Yankees ace (or the Yankees Cliff Lee, if you will). He’s expected to win and anything less will be considered a major failure by the Yankee faithful (and by those critical of his extravagant contract).

On the other hand, Wilson has been one of the main reasons Texas is even in the postseason, a shocking truth in itself seeing as how he entered Spring Training with only a handful of starts made all the way back in 2005. The pressure to win is still very much anointed on his shoulders, but being seen as a bit of an underdog does relieve a bit of the stress.

Sometimes that’s the little difference needed when you take into consideration that Sabathia has a career postseason ERA of 4.41 (although he did have a 1.98 ERA in five starts last year) and Wilson has never given up a single run in the postseason (albeit in one start).

Bottom line, we have two completely different pitchers going in Game 1 and you can’t really give advantage to either one. The case is the same in Game 2, as Colby Lewis and Phil Hughes both made their first career postseason starts last week and both forced the opposition to put up eggs in the run column.

Game 3 will feature Lee versus Pettitte, a matchup of two of the best postseason starters in baseball history. Lee is 6-0 with a 1.44 ERA in seven career postseason starts. Pettitte is 19-9 with a 3.87 ERA in 41 career starts (that’s right, 41).

The only “advantage” any team can have in this series is in Game 4, which pits Tommy Hunter against A.J. Burnett. And while Burnett had about the worst second half in baseball that you could have and STILL keep your job (the only reason he didn’t is because Javier Vazquez once again pitched worse than he did), Hunter also made his first postseason start last week and lasted four innings. Based on that, you would have to think that this game would be up for grabs.

So, having considered the starting pitching and knowing that there really is no advantage played by either team, we have to consider looking into the starting lineup, surely there we may find something.


Rangers Starting Lineup


Yankees Starting Lineup



Mitch Moreland

145, .255, 9, 25, 3


Mark Teixeira

601, .256, 33, 108, 0


Ian Kinsler

391, .286, 9, 45, 15


Robinson Cano

626, .319, 29, 109, 3


Michael Young

656, .284, 21, 91, 4


Alex Rodriguez

522, .275, 30, 125, 4


Elvis Andrus

588, .265, 0, 35, 32


Derek Jeter

663, .270, 10, 67, 18


David Murphy

419, .291, 12, 65, 14


Brett Gardner

477, .277, 5, 47, 47


Josh Hamilton

518, .359, 32, 100, 8


Curtis Granderson

466, .247, 24, 67, 12


Nelson Cruz

399, .318, 22, 78, 17


Nick Swisher

566, .288, 29, 89, 1


Bengie Molina (SF+TX)

175, .249, 5, 36, 0


Jorge Posada

383, .248, 18, 57, 3


Vladimir Guerrero

593, .300, 29, 115, 4


Marcus Thames

212, .288, 12, 33, 0


While collecting these stats, the one thing that kept popping in my head are the trades that Texas made to their starting lineup (especially during bankruptcy court).

Jorge Cantu, Jeff Francoeur, Cliff Lee and Bengie Molina have all shaped this team in a positive way.

For Lee, he singlehandedly won the first playoff series in franchise history. Francoeur hit .340 for Texas, as he shared part time duties with David Murphy down the stretch. Jorge Cantu has played an important role in solidifying first base, hitting against left handed pitchers as Mitch Moreland hits right handers. And Bengie Molina has once again led a staff into the postseason (an amazing feat, seeing as how he didn’t join the team until the first of July).

To look at it with broad lenses, the Yankees trump the Rangers at first base thanks to Mark Teixeira and left field with Brett Gardner and his speed. For the rest of the positions, we may have to look a little closer.

Second base pits Robinson Cano against Ian Kinsler. Based on WAR, Cano wins hands down (6.1 to Kinsler’s 0.00, but Kinsler was hurt most of the year and only played half the season in moderate health). Kinsler hit 3 home runs in the ALDS and is a hot commodity right now. Both are dynamic players, both will be instrumental in their team’s success.

At short stop the aging Derek Jeter faces off against Elvis Andrus, the player most consider to be Jeter’s heir as the pinnacle shortstop in the American League. Andrus flashed his skills in the ALDS against the Rays and we might as well compare that to Jeter 15 years ago. But at the same time, the Yankee Captain has the most postseason experience out of…anyone.

Two converted shortstops play third base for both teams. If it were three or even two years ago I would have given the advantage to Alex Rodriguez, but these days we may be looking at two aging veterans, while they may be productive, I’m not sure we’re going to see any game changers here. Of course, A-Rod was the playoff MVP last year.

Right Field employs the like of Nelson Cruz and Nick Swisher, two players with plus power and tons of potential. Swisher seems to have finally figured everything out this year, hitting nearly .300 with nearly 30 home runs and 100 RBI. Cruz, when healthy, can put up the same numbers. He’s healthy now. Both are great bats to have in your lineup.

Last, but certainly not least, we’ll take a look at Center Field. Unfortunately for Curtis Granderson, there is no competition here. Josh Hamilton holds the floor, pretty much on any player other than the Detroit Tigers Miguel Cabrera this year. The former Tiger himself, Granderson has improved against left handed pitching from earlier in the year, and he is a dangerous bat in a series like this.

The winner of this series will come from the team that is the most aggressive. The Rangers provided that aggressive behavior in the series against the Rays; the Yankees simply destroyed the Twins, and if they are able to prevent unnecessary runs (i.e. from stolen bases, extra base hits, poor fielding alignment, etc), they may be able to squeak away from this series with a win and won’t have to face the regret that they would if Cliff Lee and the team that stole him from under their fingernails this summer beat them.

All I know is that if the Rangers move onto the World Series, the Yankees will do everything in their collective power to keep him away from any other big league ballclub.

So Cliff Lee has even more reason to beat them this year.               

2010 American League Championship Series




Time (ET)

Oct. 15

New York Yankees at Texas Rangers


8:07 p.m.

Oct. 16

New York Yankees at Texas Rangers


4:07 p.m.

Oct. 18

Texas Rangers at New York Yankees


8:07 p.m.

Oct. 19

Texas Rangers at New York Yankees


8:07 p.m.

Oct. 20

Texas Rangers at New York Yankees, if necessary


4:07 p.m.

Oct. 22

New York Yankees at Texas Rangers, if necessary


8:07 p.m.

Oct. 23

New York Yankees at Texas Rangers, if necessary


8:07 p.m.

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MLB Power Rankings: Giants Moving Up The Ladder As Each Week Progresses


Team Name followed by record of current week (11), then shown the record of the previous week (10) followed by a plus minus of the difference in their record from that week. For example, a 4-3 record is +1 and a 3-4 record is -1.


New York AL (40-23 from 35-22) |+4| With Alex Rodriguez falling to injury, the Yankees were fortunate to enter interleague play against the lowly Houston Astros after facing the similarly lowly Baltimore Orioles. The result was a 5-1 week and a tie of first place with the Rays after starting the week two games behind. However, three out of their next four series are against excellent National League clubs, so the next two weeks will be a good test for the defending champions. The Yankees’ move to the top of the Index is no surprise; you had to imagine it would happen eventually, but even with this happening no one should believe that it’ll stay this way. Not with three of the five best teams in baseball being in the same division.

Tampa Bay (40-23 from 37-20) |+1| There is a statistical oddity at work here and it goes by the name of one Carlos Felipe Pena. The guy is hitting an unearthly horrid .193 – in fact, since Mario Mendoza finished his career with an average of .215 (not .200 like everyone thinks), the term Mendoza Line should be changed to the Pena Line, since baseball is not very interested in making statistic anomalies accurate (whoops, that was a shot that I didn’t originally intend to make). Besides Carlos Pena has way more power than Mario Mendoza ever dreamed of having and this guy has managed to still hit cleanup on the best team in baseball despite such a poor batting average. For that fact alone this needs to be done.

San Diego (37-26 from 33-23) |+1| It was a so-so weak for the Padres who fell out of first place for the first time this season, but thanks to a three game losing streak from the Dodgers, they’ve managed to stay a game ahead. Adrian Gonzalez is as monstrous as advertised and the pitching is legit in both aspects (rotation and bullpen). If you’ve been keeping up with the weekly rankings, you’ll know that’s we’ve felt this way for a while and that won’t change.

Atlanta (37-27 from 33-24) |+1| It’s been such an up and down season for the Braves. They’ve been No-Hit and been in last place, but they’ve also been the source of excitement in Jason Heyward and, well, now they’re in first place with the second best record in the National League by a game in the loss column. The rotation looks excellent, and if Jair Jurjjens can come back to his form last year, they will be a difficult team to beat late in the season. That’s a big if.

Boston (37-28 from 33-25) |+1| There you are. We were wondering where you were, old friend. Such a long standing relationship we’ve had for so many years it felt weird that there was another in front of you. But, now that’s all in the past, you’re here in everyone’s rearview mirror and probably will be to stay.   Are the playoffs a realistic goal? Of course, just depends which of the three falls apart first. That’s all.

Los Angeles NL (36-27 from 33-24) |+0| The Dodgers sniffed first place this weekend for a split second, but getting swept by the rival Los Angeles team is no way to act when you’re in first place, which is the reason they are now in second. On a positive note, it appears that all three of their All-Star outfielders are healthy now, which is a first this season. Can the McCourt’s whittle a trade this summer? Their non-action could mean a postseason not in Chavez Ravine.

Minnesota (36-27 from 33-24) |+0| The Twins welcomed Atlanta into their home, and nearly got swept out of their own door, which is never good for anyone, but extremely odd for a team that was 20-10 at home before this weekend. Oh well, sometimes you just have those nights. On another note, Justin Morneau seems to be having the year Joe Mauer had last year. That’s always a good problem to have.

Cincinnati (36-28 from 33-24) |-1| The Reds had a bad week, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the Cardinal’s, so Dusty Baker and Co. can chalk it up to a gimme and walk away content. Jonny Gomes continues his amazing season, which is truly a great baseball story that is not unlike Josh Hamilton’s (without the drugs). When Gomes was 16, he was involved in a car crash that killed his best friend. Gomes was sitting next to him in the back seat and emerged with only minor injuries. At 22, he had a heart attack on Christmas Eve. Two live altering incidents certainly give a man perspective. Gomes is making the best of his.

San Francisco (35-27 from 30-25) |+3| Barry Zito is a better pitcher than Tim Lincecum, at this point, and Matt Cain is even better than both of them. Buster Posey’s much needed arrival has passed, and if the Giants can add another bat, Los Angeles and San Diego need to seriously watch out. That might not even be necessary when you consider that Pablo Sandoval apparently starts hitting once June arrives (and then doesn’t stop until it gets cold), Freddy Sanchez is just getting warmed up, the aforementioned Posey is manning first base, and Aubrey Huff is having a good year.

New York NL (35-28 from 30-27) |+4| Both New York teams managed to finish the week with 5-1 records and both moved up in the standings. What’s most impressive about the Metropolitans ascension into second place is how long it has taken the team to do it, and how long they’ve just been plugging away. Already written off the postseason ticket thanks to their own trend of late season collapses, the Phillies success and the anticipated improvements to the rest of the league, we may be watching to see how long it is before injuries start to ruin their season again, but if it doesn’t happen it will be extremely interesting.

Texas (35-28 from 30-26) |+3| They received a great week when they needed it most, because the Angels are on a role and have totally forgotten that the best hitter in their lineup is missing. The Rangers continue to be impressed by Colby Lewis, who is still the best kept secret in the American League, as well as Josh Hamilton, who has managed to avoid injury and is playing like it is 2008. There aren’t many weaknesses on the team, and if the pitching can keep it up, there shouldn’t be too many worries.

Los Angeles AL (36-30 from 31-28) |+3| In fact, the absence of Kendry Morales seems like the perfect solution to get powerful Mike Napoli consistent at-bats, since he’s such a horrible catcher and all and the designated hitter spot is reserved by the knee-buckling Hideki Matsui. It’ll be interesting to see if they can keep it up, especially with their rotation so patchy.

St. Louis (34-29 from 33-24) |-4| It’s interesting to see the Cardinal’s struggling the way that they are. Dropping five games in the loss column is never good, although having a 1-6 road record isn’t really all that unexpected, so they may get a little understanding because of that. Perhaps Matt Holliday will get hot around July, like he did last year, perhaps Brad Penny and Kyle Lohse will come back soon so they can demote Adam Ottavino and P.J. Walters where they belong. The Minors.

Detroit (33-29 from 29-27) |+2| If his numbers don’t already convince you, you should watch a few Tiger’s games and witness Miguel Cabrera carry the offense on his broad shoulders. There possibly is no single offensive player that is this good in either league right now and if he can keep it up, there should be no controversy over the AL MVP when the season ends. As for Armando Galarraga, in the two starts he’s made since his Perfect Game that Wasn’t he’s given up four runs and the Tigers have won both games (Dallas Braden has had only one quality start in the six starts he’s made since his, and Roy Halladay, well he’s Roy Halladay, but he’s 1-1 since his perfect game).

Toronto (34-30 from 33-25) |-4| Although they are still four games over .500, there is little surprise that the Blue Jays are slowly falling in the AL East. They are a nice story, but don’t have the firepower to compete with the Big Three. Ricky Romero is turning into an ace and the lineup isn’t bad at all. If they were in the AL Central or West, there would be serious talk about the playoffs.

Colorado (33-30 from 29-27) |+1|Another NL West Team over .500, another team that really hasn’t performed up to its potential. The Rockies look to have a double-ace in Ubaldo Jimenez and Jeff Francis, but could use another bat in the lineup (amazing enough, it’s true). With three other teams above them in the standings and all looking for key additions in California markets, does anyone really think the Lance Berkman would approve a trade to Colorado and not one of the other three?

Philadelphia (32-29 from 30-25) |-2| Boy, nobody really thought this would happen, what with Roy Halladay on the team (and a perfect game, to boot!) and such a successful run the past two years. They’re struggling right now, there’s definitely no argument there, but every team goes through this. If they’re not around the playoff potentials come late September, it will be most surprising.

Oakland (32-33 from 30-28) |-3| The A’s early season success was nice, but now that they are hovering around .500, everyone feels a bit more comfortable. It’s always a nerve-racking experience when a horrible hitting team finds success, because then all the analysts and color commentators contradict themselves when they say, “See, these teams don’t need big bats, just big arms.” Um, excuse me, but where’s the big arm?

Florida (31-32 from 28-30) |+1| Mike Stanton’s arrival could be the start of something good in Flo-Rida. If only they didn’t have the Hanley Cancer spreading through the clubhouse. Wow, that’s saying something.

Washington (31-33 from 27-31) |+2| The Stephen Strasburg phenomenon has arrived. I’ve contemplated writing about it since Tuesday evening, but I’ve decided to let him throw a few more games before I break into his numbers so that they legitimize a little. On another note, this team looks primed for NL dominance in a few years. Seriously.

Chicago AL (28-34 from 24-32) |+2| The White Sox managed a four game winning streak before Sunday night’s game, which is impressive and pitiful. Impressive, because any streak is good. Pitiful because it’s their longest one all year.

Chicago NL (28-35 from 25-31) |-1| Ted Lilly threw a masterful gem on Sunday night and almost had it thrown away by Carlos Marmol. Still not sure if Marmol closed the door on the White Sox in the ninth inning, or if the Northsiders simply gave the game away as they have done all year.

Kansas City (27-37 from 24-34) |+0| With Zack Greinke’s interesting complete game on Sunday, it’s been assured that the Royals have so little trust in their bullpen that they’ll leave their starters out as long as they possibly can.

Milwaukee (26-37 from 22-34) |+1| The Brewers have such a fantastic lineup that it’s odd to see them eleven games under .500. Conversely, the pitching is so old and slow that it seems like they are fielding Jamie Moyer every start.

Arizona (26-38 from 22-35) |+1| The D’Backs could actually be contending in the NL West if it weren’t for their horrid bullpen. But, since they have such a bad group of hurlers, they aren’t, and won’t for a year or two.

Cleveland (25-37 from 21-34) |+1| Welcome Carlos Santana. That’s about it.

Houston (25-39 from 22-35) |-1|The battle for last in the NL Central is waging between the Astros and Pirates. Because the Pirates tossed everyone worth anything overboard last year and the Astros are planning to this summer, the award should go to Houston when all is said and done.

Seattle (24-39 from 22-34) |-3|If Mike Carp is the answer to the struggling offence, then pigs are taking flight all over the country.

Pittsburgh (23-40 from 23-33) |-6| At least Jose Tabata can provide another spark on offense, and when Pedro Alvarez comes up the Pirates can perhaps come up with enough to score more than 520 runs on the year.

Baltimore (17-46 from 16-41) |-4|Just not sure how this team is this bad. Although, someone has to be.


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MLB Power Rankings: San Francisco May Be Giants by Year’s End

Armando Galarraga, James Joyce. You know these names, you know what happened. But there was still a lot of baseball last week in 28 cities not named Detroit or Cleveland. What happened? A lot more than everyone realizes.

You have your Power Rankings, you have your Web Gems, you have your local sports radio, you have your biases.

Of course you know what’s going on with your favorite player on your favorite team. You know what’s going on with Albert Pujols, Jason Heyward, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Roy Halladay (heck, you even know who Armando Galarraga is, how to spell his name, and that there is an umpire out there who wrote Ulysses…that’s a joke…).

But what don’t you know? What’s the secret behind the Padres’ success? How are the Blue Jays this good? What is the reason the Mariners are so bad? Every team has a hero and a goat, just as every team has a story and a reason. TMI and Man Cave Sports go beyond the top national plays every Monday and give you a quick recap about every single team for that week.

So, take your Power Rankings and Web Gems, bookmark them, and bookmark us too. We’ll give you just as much entertainment and a little bit different perspective that’s definitely The Most Interesting…


Tampa Bay (37-20)

The Rays seem to always find a player to perform when they need one. Granted, that’s a classic mark of a great team, but this borders on the edge of slightly ridiculous. John Jaso? Sean Rodriguez? Sure, Carlos Pena is hitting .175 from the five hole, but when your ninth place hitter is B.J. Upton, there’s not much you can complain about (even if he has been a disappointment).

The pitching continues to be the Energizer Bunny for Joe Maddon, and it’s going to be interesting to see how he handles these relatively young arms come August and September.


New York AL (35-22)

If they were not bitten by the injury bug, they would most likely lead the majors in wins, but because of that and the Rays’ inability to give up any ground, they are a close second. Nick Swisher is having a career year to go along with the emergence of Robinson Cano and the explosion of Brett Garden.

Once Curtis Granderson can get back on track, the only weakness seems to be catcher. (I refuse to speak of Mark Teixeira’s troubles yet. He always manages to turn it around just as soon as everyone gives up…which will be soon.)

Javier Vazquez continues to be an interesting project to keep your eye on. The inconsistency is fascinating.


San Diego (33-23)

In the final 56 games of 2009, the Padres went 33-23. In the first 56 games of 2010, the Padres are 33-23. That’s a record of 66-46 in their last 112 games. Pretty impressive, since if you put that into 162 games, that’s roughly a 95-win season.

How are they doing this? Pitching has sure helped (and a huge home ballpark) and includes Jon Garland (2.68 ERA), Clayton Richard (2.87 ERA), Mat Latos (3.26 ERA), and Wade LeBlanc (3.67). Heath Bell and Luke Gregerson shore up the bullpen. Sometimes it’s that simple.

As for the offense? Everyone knows about Adrian Gonzalez, but how about Chase Headley, Nick Hundley, Will Venable, and the rookie Kyle (although struggling) Blanks? It’ll be interesting to see how deep they can go this year and if they’ll be in the market to pick up players, rather than drop them.


Minnesota (33-24)

There were a lot of unknown concerns heading into 2010 that began to snowball on the Twins in spring training. A new stadium, the injury to Joe Nathan and subsequent closing concerns, Joe Mauer’s health, Justin Morneau’s health—a season-threatening injury to either player would seemingly derail the Twins’ train ride to the top of the division.

However, they apparently love Target Field (18-9), and Jon Rauch is a better stopper than a drain plug. The M&M boys have seen very minor setbacks and remain in the lineup. This equals a dangerous team, whose rotation is solidified by Francisco Liriano’s return to dominance.


Atlanta (33-24)

On May 7 the Braves sat in last place in the NL East at 14-17. Fast-forward 30 days and we are looking at a 33-24 team in sole possession of first place.

Don’t try to find an excuse buried under the rug of an apparent easy schedule. The Braves played Philadelphia, Los Angeles NL, Cincinnati, New York NL, and Philadelphia again during this span. These are all teams gunning for their respective division leads. Florida is a dangerous team, and so are Washington and Milwaukee (when they want to be). So, this month was no cakewalk, and all they’ve done is go 19-7.


St. Louis (33-24)

With the extra innings loss to Milwaukee on Sunday night, the Cardinals fell to a tie atop the NL Central with the Cincinnati Reds.


Cincinnati (33-24)

With all the hype around Aroldis Chapman, Mike Leake was totally forgotten in spring training. But Leake was awarded a nod in the starting rotation, and after his first two shaky outings where he walked 12 men, he has walked a mere 13 during the rest of them. He stands at 5-0 with a 2.22 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 73 innings. Did we happen to mention a .417 offensive batting average?

Speaking of offense, fellow young players Jay Bruce (seven home runs, .361 OBP, 29 walks) and Joey Votto (11 home runs, .409 OBP, 28 walks) are being led by wily veterans Orlando Cabrera (16xbh, eight stolen bases) and Scott Reincarnate Rolen (14 home runs, 40 RBI, .288 AVG, .351 OBP, 13 doubles). This team might not go away easily.


Los Angeles NL (33-24)

After struggling to put anything together to start the year (their three-headed outfield monster struggled to play in the same games until recently), the Dodgers have come alive in Mannywood.

They have five hitters with more than 25 RBI so far, and their pitching rotation of Clayton Kershaw (3.06 ERA), Chad Billingsley (3.80 ERA), Hideki Kuroda (3.63), and John Ely (3.00) are performing exactly where they are supposed to (well, except for the phenom Ely). While San Diego is impressing the league, the Dodgers are the defending division champs two years running and are the club to beat…if they can.

(Five teams at 33-24 after 10 weeks? Who would have thunk it?)


Boston (33-25)

What to say about the Red Sox? It seems that they dug themselves into a hole to start the season and now, 58 games in, are battling to stay out of fourth in the AL East. It’s going to be difficult the way the Blue Jays are playing these days, especially after their successful series at home against New York.

The Red Sox’s biggest burden right now is getting Josh Beckett healthy and figured out. Once they get him back to form, they can relax a little (but just a little). Oh, and David Ortiz seems perfectly content these days (and is looking much better than Mark Teixeira) once again. With 14 xbh and a .363 AVG in May, it does appear that he’s back.


Toronto (33-25)

Jose Bautista continues to amaze the baseball nation with his 18 home runs this early on. Granted, the entire team has 28 more home runs than the second best team in baseball, and that says something about your offense. So does hitting.245 as a team, but I suppose you can’t have Christmas and Thanksgiving on the same day. Although you can have Vernon Wells and his 36 xbh, so far, in an impressive comeback year.

(Does anyone notice that four out of the top 10 teams in baseball are coming out of the AL East? If you’re going to look into instant replay, you have to look into realignment. Period.)


San Francisco (30-25)

The talk around the Giants’ ballpark these days is Tim Lincecum and his inability to…well…dominate. After three straight un-Lincecum-like starts, he managed to pull out a decent one in Sunday’s eventual win over the Pirates. Please, please, please. Do not worry one bit about Tiny Tim; in fact, be thankful. Be thankful that this is happening now and not in September when the G-men are fighting for a playoff spot.

Be thankful that Barry Zito has returned to form; that Matt Cain is as silently awesome as he always is; and that Jonathan Sanchez has a .183 BAA. These guys can lead a team through the playoffs. The question earlier in the year, is could their offense get them there?

Well, thanks to the timely additions of Buster Posey, Freddy Sanchez, and Pat The Bat Burrell; this team looks a lot better than it did the last time we looked at them. Pablo Sandoval is one of the game’s more exciting hitters, and Aubrey Huff, Bengie Molina, Aaron Rowand, and Juan Uribe are solid professional hitters that most teams would love.

Throw in the nice year Andres Torres seems to be having and the fact that Mark DeRosa and Edgar Renteria will be back later this year, and the Giants actually have a very, very dangerous team. There are two teams that will storm into the playoffs this year, and the Giants are one of them.


Philadelphia (30-25)

The Phightin’ Phils have phallen into second place in the NL East, and that’s as much their phault as it is the Braves’. Over the last two weeks (where they were unceremoniously swept by said Atlanta), they are 4-9 (one helped by a certain Roy Halladay in Florida) and have really struggled to put some offense together.

This is perhaps a midseason phunk they are going through (and most likely is), but with the Braves playing the way they are, this will no doubt make for a very interesting race come September. After Sept. 6, every game they play will be against NL East teams, in a division that will be extremely tight to the wire.


Texas (30-26)

Tommy Hunter welcomed himself to the roster with a nice complete-game victory over the best team in the Bigs on Saturday afternoon. This is important because Texas is filled with good quality arms that are mostly unproven. The addition of another one is nothing to frown at and could be a huge help to the staff, led by Rich Harden (5.34 ERA) and Scott Feldman (5.82 ERA). They haven’t exactly pitched like they were expected to.

Instead, the Rangers have seen nice results from C.J. Wilson (3.62 ERA, 11 starts) and Colby Lewis (3.62 ERA, 11 starts). Matt Harrison and Derek Holland seem to be the ones who will lose playing time due to Hunter’s arrival.


New York NL (30-27)

It’s difficult to determine if the Mets are playoff contenders because they are one of those teams that have a huge budget but always balk at the last moment when working to improve the team. (These front office blunders are reflected on the field—don’t ignore that.)

They seem to have the tools to compete, yet sit only three games above .500 even after sweeping the Marlins at Citi Field this weekend. Their offense doesn’t seem to fit the mold of Citi Field, and it may be a while before the guys who make changes realize that.


Los Angeles AL (31-28)

The Angels finally cracked the .500 mark but certainly will find it difficult to maintain it thanks to Kendry Morales’ misfortune with home plate. This team is older and not as exciting in years past. Don’t count them out, but this should be Texas’ league to win.


Oakland (30-28)

The Athletics appear to be the Mariners from a year ago: decent to great pitching, lackluster to decent hitting, and a lot of luck. To see them continue in their winning ways would be fun to see but unlikely.


Detroit (29-27)

We won’t talk about the White Elephant here. If you want to read about it, go here or here. The Tigers are among the better teams to love right now. They have three very good weapons to their artillery cache. The only problem is getting the offense to click with the rotation and bullpen, and vice versa.

Earlier this season the bullpen and offense led the team as the rotation struggled to find consistency. Fast-forward through the season, and it’s relatively the same. Then Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello began to piece it together in May, and finally last Sunday, something clicked for the rest of them.

Max Scherzer struck out 14 Athletics (while facing 17), Armando Galarraga pitched a 28-out perfect game, and Jeremy Bonderman (while struggling Sunday) has gained more and more confidence each time he goes to the mound, and that means a lot. Detroit has five dependable starters. There aren’t many teams who can say that.

To look at it further, Detroit has a very good lineup with very professional hitters in Johnny Damon, Magglio Ordonez, and Carlos Guillen; very exciting hitters in Austin Jackson, Miguel Cabrera, and Brennan Boesch; and somewhat streaky hitters in Brandon Inge, the duo of Alex Avila and Gerald Laird, and Ramon Santiago and Danny Worth.

Detroit, much like San Francisco, is a team that might need one bat to push it over the threshold of success. Remember those two teams who will storm into the playoffs? The Tigers are the second.


Colorado (29-27)

Ubaldo Jimenez saw his scoreless innings streak end at 33 innings but proved to be just as dominant as ever in his start on Sunday, where he improved to 11-1 but saw his ERA rise to 0.93. Forget all the comparisons for a second and just think about this: He’s the next sure thing to win every single time out, relief for the bullpen, and just a fun guy to watch pitch. That’s why he’s exciting.

(18 of the 30 MLB teams have winning percentages over .500 after 10 weeks. What does this say about diversity? Stop hating on the big market clubs. It’s all about how talented your team is, how you develop your young players, and how you execute the small things.

The following teams are talented but seem to need pieces or are in positions that require tweaking—or firing—of certain managers and coaches. In Chicago’s case, just blame it on Twitter. One manager doesn’t know what it is; the other can’t shut up.)


Florida (28-30)

The Marlins are going to bring up young stud Mike Stanton in their upcoming series against Philadelphia on Tuesday. The last time they promoted a 20-year-old slugger midseason, they won the World Series that year. Can history repeat itself? Never say never.


Washington (27-31)

Stephen Strasburg pitches on Tuesday. Be there or be square (or wherever your smart phone can pick up the game).


Chicago NL (25-31)

Perhaps Lou Piniella doesn’t hold enough respect as he used to, but a lot more people think that it’s just that his team stinks, not that he is losing his touch. Perhaps Starlin Castro can bring people into the seats, but there’s no I in team (although there is a me).


Chicago AL (24-32)

Ozzie Guillen told his players that if they didn’t improve there would be moves made. Such threats!


Kansas City (24-34)

Ned Yost loves the batting order but can’t stand the bullpen (and neither can Zack Greinke). Can anyone blame them?


Pittsburgh (23-33)

Andrew McCutchen is going to be a good player for a very long time. Neil Walker is an exciting young former first round pick. Their farm system is always going to be good (thanks to high draft positions year in and year out), but the real question is, are the upper echelons good enough to figure out a way to piece them all together during the same year?


Milwaukee (22-34)

It’s just proof that poor pitching loses and your offense can do nothing about it. Sad proof.


Seattle (22-34)

And also proof that “just” pitching doesn’t win. You do need some offense if you have pitching.

(It’s called balance, people.)


Arizona (22-35)

Dontrelle Willis pitched a fantastic game on Saturday and joins Edwin Jackson as Detroit’s castoffs in the Arizona rotation, paired with the Yankees’ castoff (Ian Kennedy) and everyone else’s castoff (Rodrigo Lopez). At least Dan Haren is still around (but for long?).


Houston (22-35)

Trade talks swarm like flies around the pigs at Roy Oswalt’s farm. He might be moving this summer. Anyone have a garage big enough to fit a bulldozer in?


Cleveland (21-34)

No Size More? No More Season.


Baltimore (16-41)

Perhaps a new manager can change their losing ways. Perhaps I will write a column for ESPN next week.

Joshua Worn is an editor, journalist, and sportswriter who spends way too much of his time studying Major League Baseball box scores. He publishes The Most Interesting Column on his personal website. Contact him at

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Imperfect Joyce: How Bud Selig’s Simple Dismissal Affects Everyone

How Bud Selig Has Simply Ignored Everyone’s Call for Reversal, How America’s Most Troubled City (and everyone else) Has Embraced an Understandable Failure, and How This Has Turned into One of the Better Baseball Stories in American History


First, let’s send a memo out to those who are, or who will be, thrust into the negative national spotlight in the near future.

It contains two simple words.


Act like Jim Joyce.

When you screw up, look at the evidence, admit that you are wrong, and apologize. Of course, a few tears don’t hurt.

Sincerity goes a long way, folks, and Jim Joyce’s simple sincerity has quite possibly saved his future as an umpire.

Ken Burns said it best when he was interviewed by Kieth Olbermann on Thursday. “This is an amazing story, and that’s what I’m interested in. The magnanimity of Galarraga, the sort of honesty and courage of Joyce, everybody sort of coming together, makes it one of those classic human baseball stories.”

This is a fantastic story because of the immediate reactions; the disbelief of the players and fans, the resilience of Joyce, the emotion shown by Armando Galarraga, Jim Leyland, and Miguel Cabrera just after the play—and as the game continued, Cabrera seen jawing at Joyce between every pitch—and finally the pure, honest admittance by Joyce as soon as he saw the replay.

This is a fantastic story because of the immediate aftermath; the media was all over the story, it was headlined by nearly every major news site all through the next night and into Thursday, and still is on,, and Friday morning.

This is a fantastic story because of how it was handled by those directly involved; Jim Joyce seen crying as he accepted the Detroit Tiger’s lineup card from Armando Galarraga, who received a new Corvette courtesy of GM, was recognized by Michigan’s Governor for pitching a perfect game, and through everything has shown no anger or ill will.


Sure, Joyce screwed up.

Big time.

In fact, looking at all of this information over the last day; the blogs, photos, video, and constant headlined coverage over the Internet, I think his decision might have been the biggest blown call of all-time, thanks to the circumstance and the direct impact of the play.

But, if you listen to his comments after the game, how can you blame him? How can you look at him with anger?

You feel his pain and regret just as you feel for Armando Galarraga, a beleaguered pitcher who has never really figured the big leagues out, until Wednesday night, that is.

You feel for the Detroit Tigers, who played their hearts out for their pitcher, and you feel bad for the Detroit fans (hey, I’m one of them) who live in the most troubled city in America; who have battled through company failures (Ford, Chrysler, GM), unemployment spikes (nearly 30 percent in many places and still growing), horrifying crimes (Aiyana Jones ) , corrupt politicians (Kwame Kilpatrick), and national criticism, for the last several years.

When this happened, how could you not think; well, it’s Detroit, Mich. what luck do they have?

We don’t. We have no luck.

I watched the game live on FSN Detroit from the start, and then, began ignoring everything else in my life after the seventh inning. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

Literally. Could. Not. Believe. It.

Here we had a pitcher who really was the last pitcher anyone thought would ever throw a no-hitter, much less a perfect game; we had a team that had lost eight of their last 10 games; we had a game where only 17,738 people showed up on a Wednesday night, after a day of horribly, muggy, rainy weather.

This was not Mother’s Day. This was not a game started by Roy Halladay. In fact, this was not a game that was started by a member of Detroit’s opening day roster.

This was not supposed to happen.

But roughly an hour and a half after the first pitch, Joyce blew the perfect call and what followed is simply going to be etched into sports, and really, American history.

To hear the emotion of Tiger’s color commentator, Rod Allen cry out, “Why is he safe? Oh, my goodness, Jim Joyce, Nooooo, why is he safe?” still sends a shiver down my spine.

To hear Jim Joyce, after he saw the replay, “No I did not get the call correct. I kicked the shit out of it…There’s nobody that feels worse than I do…I just missed the damn call…I took a perfect game away from that kid.”

I want to tell him that it’s okay, I understand. I do.

So do you.

To hear Armando Galarraga, in his broken English, “Nobody’s perfect.” I have to shake my head and wonder how he can act so stoic, with such class, when I, a mere fan who wasn’t even at the ballpark, am seething, when I am so mad at the injustice of human error, at the lack of instant replay, that I can barely form the frustrated words in my head.

Since Jim Joyce isn’t the bad guy, who is?

There has to be one, right? This can’t possibly turn out well for everyone, can it?


And we have Bud Selig to thank for that.

Selig, who in acting in the way he always has, has become the laughing stock of the baseball world because he will not overturn the call.


Unlike the NFL and NBA, Major League Baseball and their Big Wigs still use quill pens, work via candlelight, and wear grey wigs as they polish their single-bullet muskets (a.k.a. baseball bats).

In short, baseball doesn’t change very quickly, if it all.

Selig merely promised that they (those quill pen users) will look at expanding instant replay as well as the umpiring crews, going forward.

He thus leaves Jim Joyce as the big-hearted umpire who blew the call in the perfect game, as Major League Baseball’s goat for this whole debacle.

Listen, I understand that in baseball you will rarely change an umpire’s call, if you do that once you are grabbing hold of that piece of thread on a poorly made t-shirt. When you pull, where does it end? At what point do you stop overturning calls that have been blown by human error?

But, it has happened , and in far less direct circumstances, on a far bigger stage. Even if it was 27 years ago.

In this situation, Joyce’s call came on the last play of the game, the final play of a perfect game, and the very next batter bounced out to end the game.

If you award Galarraga the perfect game, nothing really changes; Galarraga would officially throw 83 pitches instead of 88, Trevor Crowe would not be charged with the final at-bat, and Jason Donald would not be awarded the hit (hey, even he admitted: “Yeah, I was out.”).

That’s it, that’s all that changes, and while there would be no on-field celebration, the jubilation would still be there, Galarraga would go down in the record books as the 21st pitcher to throw a perfect game, and dare I say it, justice would be served.

It would be served because this situation is just different than other blown calls in baseball.

This situation reeks of plausible deniability.

When a murderer confesses to his crime, do we shrug it off and say, “Nah, what happened, happened, you can’t change it now, can you? You can’t take what you did back. Fuggetaboutit.”  No, of course we don’t.

We serve justice.

And in Wednesday night’s case, justice would be served for Jim Joyce.

For Armando Galarraga.

For the Tigers.

For the city of Detroit.

Don’t we, at least, deserve something perfect?

Doesn’t Galarraga?


Joshua Worn   is an editor, journalist, and sportswriter, who spends way too much of his time studying Major League Baseball box scores. He publishes   The Most Interesting Column  on his personal website. Contact him at .


The Day After Reactions:

Official Game Wrap

Official MLB Statement

Kevin Kaduk

Jerry Crasnick

Don Denkinger’s Reaction

Rob Neyer

R.N. Again

Mr. Bloody Sock himself

Jason Stark – Possibly one of the better idea’s out there

Ian O’Conner


Additional Coverage:

Jason Beck – Tigers Beat Writer for

Jesse Sanchez – National Writer for

Anthony Castrovince – Indians Beat Writer for

Peter Gammons – You know who he is

Tom Singer – Writes the MLBlog, Change for a Nickel

Jason Beck – More Stuff

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A Galarragan Disaster: Jim Joyce Gives New Meaning To Perfection


An hour and forty-four minutes is the time it takes to go from beleaguered AAA pitcher, to a man who nearly flirted with perfection.

Let’s retract that.

An hour and forty-four minutes is the time it takes to go from beleaguered AAA pitcher, to a man who threw a perfect game.

And don’t let Jim Joyce try to tell you otherwise.

In fact, he won’t even tell you otherwise.

“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me!” My hands flew to my face, I felt my knees and voice shake with disbelief and thoughts of “Well, they’re going to change the rules for instant replay now,” went through my head as I witnessed the unbelievable play unfold.

I stood there and watched as Miguel Cabrera an Jim Joyce jawed at each other, I stood there and watched the game end on another weak ground ball, I stood there and watched Jim Leyland scream at the entire umpiring crew and shook my head as they just listened. Because each and every one knew that they had not only just blown a call, but a call that destroyed a perfect game.

Questions are being asked, opinions are being stated, and Jim Joyce is now thrust onto the worst kind of national stage that any human being can ask for.

So what went through his head? How did a man with 22 years of professional experience blow a call that he makes 99.99 percent of the time?

What was he thinking as he saw Jason Donald fly down the line, as Cabrera ranged to his right, lead the ball towards Armando Galarraga who arrived at first, caught it in the webbing of his glove, let it slide into the pocket, and step on first milliseconds before Donald’s foot touched the base.

What did he really see on a play that he was in perfect position to call? What was he thinking?

He was thinking that he didn’t want to blow the call, call Donald out, and find out afterwards that people are claiming he just gave the Tiger’s the game on a controversial play.

So, he wasn’t sure and called him safe.

But the problem was, the play wasn’t really that close.  

It’s a call that has simply stunned the baseball—and really, the sports—world.

Jim Joyce denied Armando Galarraga and the Tiger’s a feat that is so unreal that it can even crack a grin on the face of Roy Halladay.

What has he done (And I’m sure he’s asking himself that question)?

You can play it off as human error, but how much can you give a man who, after 22 years in baseball, has made himself the new Bill Buckner of baseball.

In doing so, he may have changed the face of baseball going forward.

We are going to hear screams upon screams of protests for instant replay over the next few weeks and months, and perhaps, until the commissioner responds. That is justified, because never before have we had a circumstance like this.

Let’s try to break this down.

Three perfect games in a month.

What are the odds? Seriously, what are the odds?

This would have been an unbelievable feat in major league baseball and because Joyce froze and tried to show how unbiased he was by blowing the call, he has stripped baseball of unprecedented attention.

But at the same time, the attention that will be thrust upon Joyce will be unprecedented as well, and we won’t even be able to comprehend how much stress and pressure that he is now under; The entire nation knows that he blew the call, and for that, how can baseball discipline the man. They can’t because he made a simple mistake that in any other situation would be simply shrugged off.

But on this stage, with these circumstances, the call was inexcusable. If he was not sure, he should have pointed toward home or second or third for confirmation. If he was not sure, let another umpire make the call, it happens more often than people realize.

But he did not and he ruined a great thing for Armando Galarraga, the Detroit Tigers, the fans, and the entire baseball community tonight, and that is what his legacy will be.

Armando Galarraga pitched a perfect game tonight and he did not get credit for it.

That’s all anyone will talk about as they shake their heads and wait to see how this situation unfolds.


Media’s initial take:





Jim Joyce


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MLB Power Rankings: Are the San Francisco Giants Divine or Diabolical?

There are 10 major league baseball teams that have between 25 and 26 wins at the beginning of week nine. Five more have at least 23 wins. To quote a great physicist, which by the way has nothing to do with this column, these teams are neither divine, nor diabolic.

But the reality of these numbers are divine.

In a league criticized as much as it is for its lack of salary discipline, to have 50 percent of the league in contention a quarter of the way through the season is an absolute anomaly.

Sparky Lyle, the great manager of the middle to late 20th century, once said that the true judge of a team comes only after they have played 40 games.

Well, here we are, and look at the major league standings.

Once you do that you realize that I have left out one team.

One absolutely divine team.

The Tampa Bay Rays.

They have won six more games than any other club; and with 32, stand at 20 games over .500.

And that’s where we begin.



Tampa Bay (32-12)

I begin with pitching because as all people who have been around the game enough know, when you get good pitching (hence the Rays of Tampa Bay), your hitting will eventually win you enough games. If you have poor pitching, it doesn’t matter how talented your lineup is.

(For good pitching and no hitting, see the Giants of San Francisco, for good hitting and no pitching, see the Brewers of Milwaukee.)

One of the main reasons that the Rays were picked this offseason as one of the top teams in baseball was because of their pitching staff.

James Shields, who burst onto the scene in 2007, is now 5-1 with a 3.08 ERA. Matt Garza, who burst onto the scene in 2008, is 5-2 with a 2.37 ERA. The 2008 postseason phenom, David Price, who stormed onto baseball lore with his abrupt, late arrival that year, is now 7-1 with a 2.41 ERA. Last year’s rookie sensation, Jeff Niemann is 4-0 with a 2.54 ERA. This year has brought the arrival of Wade Davis, who is 4-3 and posted an ERA of 3.35.

Every one of them has made every one of their scheduled starts.

The Rays’ overall team ERA is 2.83.

Simply put—they give up less than three runs every game they play.

Their team runs per game is 5.45.

Simply put—they score almost six runs in every game that they play.

What’s funny is that, while they are getting good performances from Carl Crawford (.324, 3, 21), Evan Longoria (.319, 9, 38), and Ben Zobrist (.309, 2, 23), the rest of the full-time starters aren’t exactly blowing up the competition.

Jason Bartlett, who hit .320 last year, is now hitting .246. B.J. Upton, who has teased us for years, is hitting .213. The incumbent Carlos Pena, is hitting a robust .187. Pat Burrell (.202) was just released and replaced by ex-Texas Ranger, Hank Blalock, who has spent the year at the Rays Triple-A affiliate.

The catching battle between Dioner Navarro (.188) and John Jaso (.349) is getting more and more interesting as the veteran is seemingly being outplayed by the unlikely rookie.

Faced with this rash of reality, the theory that pitching wins, holds true. Although, in the end, to keep up in the AL East (which currently boasts four of the 15 deadly teams), they are going to need to see improvement from those players who have disappointed so far.

While the divine is always wonderful to focus on, those who are capable of becoming so, are honestly, more interesting. Here are the teams who are deadly.



New York AL (26-17)

Injuries seem to have derailed this mighty giant at this point in the season and while they still have the second-best record in the American League, they just lost four out of their last five games to Tampa and New York. The true test of this team is if they can stay healthy when it’s important.

Philadelphia (26-17)

While Roy Halladay may have lost in a bad way to the visiting Boston Red Sox, the team has been getting excellent reviews on their other newest signing (Ryan Howard) and their soon-to-be free agent (Jason Werth). Like the Yankees, this team is built for the postseason (and don’t be surprised if they add another key pitcher, as they did last year with Pedro Martinez), but unlike the Yankees, they aren’t as old.

Minnesota (26-18)

Target Field seems just like home to the Twins as they boast the third-best record in the American League. You can thank part of that to the resurgence of Francisco Liriano and the expected production of the M&M boys (Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer). Both are consistently at the top of the leader board in average this year. Don’t expect either to fall from it.

San Diego (26-18)

Possibly the greatest surprise of the year, the Padres have relied heavily on fantastic pitching in a fantastic pitching park (and actually have done so since the second half of last year). The names may not be household ones just yet, but they are just as effective as the C.C. Sabathia’s and Cliff Lee’s of the world are. Throw in one of the better overall first baseman in the game today (Adrian Gonzalez ) and an abundance of young, professional role players; don’t be surprised when this team is among the final few National League teams standing.

St. Louis (26-19)

The team that plays in the best city in baseball regained first place of the NL Central on Sunday. A week ago, the division seemed all but wrapped up (more on that in a minute), but now that it’s close, you’ve got to like the choice of the top two hitters (Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday) and the top two pitchers (Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter). Then again, they did last year and one of the four blew the entire playoffs with one play (yeah, that’s harsh).

Toronto (26-20)

Timely pitching and hitting leads the cause for this team’s current record. It has been surprising that they’ve stuck around this long, and the summer will be the true test for this team (especially one that lost Roy Halladay).  A couple names to keep note of are Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, and Alex Gonzalez. If these three can keep up their offensive onslaught, then this team may put up a fight in the AL East.

Detroit (25-19)

The starting pitching, which was a strength in the first half of last year, hasn’t really performed up to par this time around. And while Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello seem to be trustworthy hurlers every time out, it is the bullpen that has impressed. Lead by Jose Valverde, a.k.a. Papa Grande, the hard-throwing cats include Ryan Perry, Joel Zumaya, and Phil Coke. One thing to watch is their innings. They have compiled a lot early on and the test will be how effective they are down the stretch.

Los Angeles NL (25-19)

The Dodgers have burst onto the scene over the last two weeks and are 12-2 during that span. Thanks to the run, they’ve bolted into second place in the NL West and have one of the better records in the game. Once again, this is thanks to exceptional pitching and Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsly, and John Ely (yes, even as a rookie) are going to be expected to keep it up this summer if they want to continue to contend.

Cincinnati (25-19)

Another surprise team, the Reds have relied on pitching from Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake as well as a nice home record. To truly contend, they are going to need to make an addition from the trade market or hope that Edinson Volquez can come back strong. They have had a nice resurgence from Scott Rolen as an offensive note.

Texas (25-20)

As expected, the Rangers are contending and they are doing so with a combination of pitching and hitting. As usual, the hitting is the strength, and to really contend this postseason they are going to need one or two of their pitchers to step up or add one (perhaps a Roy Oswalt?) to be seriously considered.

Boston (24-21)

After a month of disappointment, it seems that David Ortiz has returned and what do you know, poof, the team has enjoyed similar success. This of course, could have something to do with Daisuke Matsuzaka’s return as well. Regardless, this team has enough pitching to contend, but in a division where the Rays and Yankees lead everyone else, sneaking into the postseason is a stretch….at this point.

Atlanta (23-21)

The Braves enjoy being at home where they are 13-7, but are five games under on the road. This is a very interesting team to watch this summer because they have a lot of talent on both sides of the roster. Jason Heyward continues to impress and Tommy Hanson is continuing his emergence into the pitching elite (although his ERA is a little high at this point).

Oakland (23-22)

Pitching. Pitching. Pitching. The Athletics gave up one run in three games against the Giants this weekend, and, of course, won all three. This is another team that is contending thanks to its pitching and timely offense. In a division that is wide open, they could surprise this summer.

Florida (23-22)

The Hanley Ramirez saga in question, it’s hard to root for this team when anytime they have a superstar they seem to send him out of town as soon as something negative happens. New ballpark or not, it’s going to take some convincing that this team will actually try to contend when possible.

Washington (23-22)

This team is rapidly improved over the one fielded a year ago, and the best part is, they haven’t even played with their best pitcher. It’s exciting to see the Nationals in this position because they are doing everything the right way. They don’t rush their players, they don’t panic trade. They wait, just like a baseball team is supposed to do. Can we sniff playoffs in the next year or two?



San Francisco (22-21)

The Giants are the epitome of a team that has all the pitching any club would ever think of wanting. Then, when the pitching does disappoint, its effect is greatly exaggerated. Every run the opposition scores seems like two or three, and that’s difficult to mount a comeback against. A bat is needed, desperately, and it seems that the Astros are in selling mode. Hey, they have two. A certain Carlos Lee and a certain Lance Berkman could be available soon.

Colorado (22-22)

I’ve written about this before, and I’ll say it again, do not count the Rockies out. Every year they erupt as soon as the air gets nice in Colorado and this will happen soon. This year could be tougher; this is not the division of 2005 where the crown went to the Padres, who won 82 games. The NL West could potentially have four teams with 86-plus wins and the stretch run in August and September will be extremely engaging.

New York NL (21-23)

The Mets took two out of three from the Yankees this weekend and Johan Santana looked every bit of the CY Young form that is expected of him. They need their plethora of hitters to start, well, hitting consistently and get their other pitchers to start pitching consistently, and then we can start talking about a playoff team.

Chicago NL (21-24)

For comments please see Piniella, Lou .

Los Angeles AL (21-25)

While many disappointing teams have managed to turn their production around, the Angels have not been so lucky. They’ve lost too many pitchers and have not gained enough to compete. Their lineup, while promising, does not have that key player (like Vladimir Guerrero) to lead the offense.

Arizona (20-25)

A club littered with potential, the hitting and pitching just can’t seem to get on the same level. Is Brandon Webb ever going to be healthy?

Pittsburgh (19-25)

You wonder how long Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones will be around so they can get “young players” in return.

Chicago AL (18-25)

Nothing seems to have worked for the White Sox this year, so perhaps Ozzie Guillen will be tweeting to a different tune, soon?

Kansas City (18-27)

Zack Greinke can’t seem to get a break and Ned Yost seems to have inherited a disaster. We don’t like to focus on teams that don’t care either. See Florida.

Milwaukee (17-27)

You knew when the season started that the pitching would be a problem, but this bad? Well, honestly, yes.

Cleveland (16-26)

It’s unfortunate that Grady Sizemore just can’t stay healthy because this team is really only a year or two away from contending again, it just doesn’t look that way these days.

Seattle (16-28)

Another team that has the apparent “pitching,” but in reality, they do not. Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez are certainly capable of leading a postseason team, and Doug Fister and Jason Vargas have been incredible surprises, there is absolutely no hitting. They might erupt every now and then, but all major league teams do every once in a while.

Houston (15-29)

Will Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman, Brett Myers, and Carlos Lee all be leaving town this summer? This is the only reason to pay attention to Houston headlines this summer.

Baltimore (14-31)

You understand why teams like Houston, Seattle, and Cleveland struggle, but the Orioles were expected to finish above Toronto this year, in a division that expected every team to finish with more wins than losses. That’s apparently not the case here.


Joshua David Worn   is an editor, journalist, and sportswriter who spends way too much of his time studying major league baseball box scores. He has been published or linked on The San Francisco Chronicle and CBS Sports, among others. He publishes The Most Interesting Column in Sports on his website, . Contact him at .


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Fluke or Feat: Ranking the Toughest Single Game Accomplishments in MLB

When you look at it, major league baseball is a game played using statistics to determine who is the best and worst player over the course of a career.

Those who stand at the top of the game when their careers are over are enshrined as baseball’s immortal.

Well, let’s not bring Pete Rose or Joe Jackson into the equation, that’s another one of Pandora’s Boxes that will remain closed…for now.

But when Dallas Braden achieved perfection on Mother’s Day, it got us thinking…while baseball may be a marathon, what are the most difficult single game accomplishments in the sport?

Because, while Braden has a long way to go before ever being considered for the Hall Of Fame, he has certainly achieved something that has now only happened 19 times in the history of the sport.

Think about it.

This begs the question; Is it the most difficult, or just the rarest?

And is it even the rarest?

Let’s find out.

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While Umpires May Want to Taser Milton Bradley, He Really Does Have Feelings

A Fit Full of Tasers : MLB Enjoying A Week of Hearty Storylines


It usually happens like this. Everything is going great, there’s no drama, no over-excited story that garners far more national attention than it deserves, and all of a sudden the stories hit like a thunderstorm in a Michigan summer.

Of course, we’re talking about the 2010 major league baseball season here.

A number of stories have begun to compound upon one another over the last week. From Milton Bradley’s emotional collapse to a 17-year-old Tasered in the middle of the Citizen Bank outfield grass, there is no shortage of storylines in major league baseball right now.


Umpires May Want to Taser Milton Bradley, but Listen, He Really Does Have Feelings

When it comes to Milton Bradley, the criticism seems to be easily justified.

Here we have a talented athlete, seemingly wasting away his career, a style of living most can only dream of, and a life that could be so much better if he just learned to control his emotions, something an average teen-ager should be able to do.

I think it’s rightly justified that we fume when those who are given the opportunity to flourish, flat out fail.

It seems that Bradley falls into this category.

But I beg a counter argument here, that, while surprising to myself that I actually feel this way, makes sense when you really think about it.

His history is shaky; he has flipped off countless fans, managers, players, and umpires in his 10 years and eight stops in the major leagues.

His longest tenure for one club was from 2001-2003 with the Cleveland Indians. He is a clubhouse cancer, an infectious disease.

He has never, ever, admitted that anything he ever did was, in fact, wrong.

Until Tuesday night.

Sometime after he struck out looking with the bases loaded but with several innings still left to play, an upset Milton Bradley left Safeco Field and went home.

Sometime after that, he decided that he needed help.

On Wednesday morning he called manager Don Wakamatsu and general manager Jack Zduriencik and asked if he could speak with them in person.

When he did so, he told them he is dealing with personal problems and asked the club for its help.


He asked management for help.

After his meeting, he went to a Seattle elementary school as part of the Mariners annual education day and spoke emotionally about his mother’s financial struggles while raising him. He then went to Safeco Field and spoke to his teammates and asked them for their support at a team meeting.


He asked his teammates for support.

Then, he willingly sat out the first of an unspecified number of games while the struggling Mariners give him time to get himself together.

See, here’s the thing, folks.

You can say all you want about how athletes make too much money to be allowed to screw up.

Go ahead, I’ve said it in the past, and while I don’t really believe it, it’s a stereotype and admit that I’ve copped out to please my audience.

But, the beauty of us, as human beings is that we all screw up.

We all have our faults and it doesn’t matter if we are presidents, athletes, judges, plumbers, pastors, or zookeepers.

We all screw up.

When those who have found incredible success do it, those who are honest with themselves can find a sense of understanding, a sense of likeness with that and a realization that these guys aren’t that much different than you and I are.

And guess what, Milton Bradley asked for help.

Let’s see you or I put aside our pride and admit that we are wrong every once in a while, forget about admitting we have major character issues.


MLB Players Apparently Want to Pack Tasers Themselves, the Way They Talk

So, this story got so big that I don’t even need to introduce it with an explanation.  

On Monday of this week (the day before Bradley’s situation), Steve Consalvi and his youthful idea made national headlines that night and prompted major league baseball and local police from each city to investigate the appropriate way to deal with fans on the field.

While some believe that the use of a Taser Gun is a little extreme, what do you honestly expect in the society we live in today?

I’ve been to dozens upon dozens of games.

The rush of running onto the field does not outweigh a misdemeanor charge.

From a player’s perspective, when a strange fan is darting toward you, like an animal charging you at a zoo, what do you think his natural reaction will be?

I don’t want anyone ever to run at me acting like a total moron, and neither do you.

Phillies right fielder Jayson Werth was prepared to strike the fan with his glove as he approached him, but once the fan realized Werth considered him hostile, he said, “No! I love you!” and ran in a different direction.

“You’re just kind of programmed to know that if somebody comes on the field, they’re fair game, because you just don’t know what they’re going to do,” Werth said. “History could repeat itself.”

The recent history?

Two fans ran onto the field and pummeled former Royals first-base coach Tom Gamboa in Chicago in 2002. A folded up pocket knife fell out of one of the fan’s pockets.

Nelson Figueroa perhaps sums it up best:

“We don’t know if this guy has a weapon on him. We don’t know if this guy is on drugs or alcohol. We didn’t even know how old he was. You don’t know what his mind-set is. This guy is obviously not happy.

“You never know. I’ve played all around the world. The Dominican, Mexico, China. You’ve got fans who get very animated at games, and at times, they throw bottles and rocks and they want to come down on the field and fight the players. “In the best interest of the player you try to have security there and whatever means necessary to keep us safe. Hopefully, it was an example and set a precedent where people realize they’re not playing.

“He was corralled. He was surrounded. It might not have been the best, most fit, youngest force we had out there to take him down. But he realized he was wrong and he knew when he started circling, the gentlemen were winded and they went to the next level. Once he tried to make a run for it and got Tasered in the back, he stopped.”

Chuckle slightly to yourself.

Think about it.


And finally, think about Honoring the Greats


Ernie Harwell (1918-2010)

Robin Roberts (1926-2010)


Joshua David Worn  is an editor, journalist, and sportswriter who spends way too much of his time studying major league baseball box scores. He has been published or linked on The San Francisco Chronicle, CBS Sports, and the Bleacher Report, among others. He publishes The Most Interesting Column in Sports  on his personal website. Contact him at .


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No Crying in Baseball: The Top 10 Postseason Upsets in MLB History

Upsets can be defined many ways.

When you think of upsets in American sports you will probably think of the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” where the upstart men’s college hockey team defeated the alien USSR for the gold medal in the winter Olympics.

In major league baseball, there are no upsets like that.

During the regular season that word isn’t even mentioned. Teams go through hot and cold spells, face all sorts of pressures and expectations from sources that are never seen or heard from, and in general play for the marathon, not a single series.

That’s why to look at upsets you have to look at the postseason.

Think about it.

What teams upset the apparent dominating teams? What teams blew past the best pitcher in baseball? What pitcher mowed down the most powerful lineup? What fan interfered with the Cubbies pursuit of glory in the 2003 NLCS?

For myself, and the focus of this article, I’m looking at the entire series when determining the depth of the upset; weighing the expectations of each team, the history, the players, and what that upset has done to the organization since.

Take a look, don’t be shy.

I’m sure by the end you’ll at least agree to disagree.

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MLB Power Rankings: San Francisco’s Stock Stays Put, San Diego’s Rising

Okay, so this isn’t your average run-of-the-mill power rankings.


We don’t rank teams simply based off of their recent performance…because, well, anyone can do that.

We take into consideration how these teams were expected to perform before the season started and rank them accordingly because baseball is a marathon and doesn’t deserve simply numerical rankings.

There are four categories teams can fall into, and throughout the year they will fall in and out of them. Top performers, under-performers, over-performers, and teams that are right where they are supposed to be. 

Well, have at it, don’t be shy.


Top Performers


1) Tampa Bay (18-7)

Wade Davis defeated Zach Greinke? Wait a second…what’s their team ERA again? 3.01? That’s like, best in the American League! Interesting how one of the most potent lineups in baseball is also leading the league in runs scored.

Hmmm…the lowest ERA, the most runs scored…no wonder they’re the best team in baseball. They’ve scored 67 more runs than their opponents. Oh, one more thing, that hoodie makes Joe Madden the coolest guy in baseball. He drinks Merlot after every game, listens to classical music, and sports an unconventional uniform? Forget Michael Jordan, I want my son to be like Joe Madden!

Philadelphia (14-10)

Here’s the thing about a 14-10 team being the second most impressive team in baseball. It’s the fact that they single-handedly destroyed Johan Santana on Sunday night…in one inning. There’s something to be said about a team that can score 10 runs off of “the best pitcher in the NL East.”

There’s also something to be said about a team that has Roy Halladay. There’s another thing to be said about a team that just announced that they love the position the team is currently in that they decided to dish out $125 million to our oversized first baseman. Who’s worried? Even Jamie Moyer will win 12 games for this club, and he’s almost as old as his manager.


3) St. Louis (17-8)

This is such a quiet team that it’s almost scary to think about how good they are. On paper, they don’t score a lot of runs, they don’t hit for a high average, and they don’t steal a lot of bases. They’re average.

Wait, oh I forgot the pitching. The team has an ERA of 2.56. They’ve thrown four shutouts, and sport two of the best pitchers in the game. That’s why…just wait until Matt Holliday starts hitting.


4) New York AL (16-8)

When you pull your under-performing cleanup hitter out of the lineup for a bit of rest (as they did with Alex Rodriguez on Sunday) and the replacement goes 3-for-4 with a homer and a pair of RBI (as Nick Swisher did), what more do you want? Well, how about asking your number five starter (Phil Hughes) to improve to 3-0 with an ERA of 1.44 and a WHIP of 0.88? Or your 37-year-old lefty (Andy Pettitte) to win the same number of games and post an ERA of 2.12?

5) Minnesota (16-9)

Joe Mauer hurt? Just bring up Wilson Ramos to replace him. You’ll get, what, four hits in his major league debut?  Jon Rauch has blown one save all year, Francisco Liriano looks better than he did in 2006, and the rest of the rotation looks like they could all be number two starters on any other ballclub. The M and M boys are nearly hitting a combined .350 and Jim Thome looks right at home.


6) Detroit (16-10)

If there was a stat for average hits/strikeouts per game, Austin Jackson would be the league leader. Because there’s not, due to the fact that something like that makes no sense at all, he leads the American League in both individual categories.

But, I think most ML managers would take that in stride. What can you really do to change a leadoff hitter (who is a rookie, by the way) who is leading the league in hits and has an OBP of .420? Wait for his hits to start getting caught, then tell him to be a little more patient.

Before that, don’t say a word. On another note, Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander look better than ever. This might be the year that the Wild Card comes out of the AL Central. Hmmm, just like 2006.


7) San Francisco (14-10)

Pitching. Pitching. Pitching. The team has given up the fewest amount of hits (166) and ranks first in WHIP (1.12), batting average against (.210), and second in quality starts (17 in 24 games), and ERA (2.67).

The only problem is the hitting, hitting, hitting. Well, situational hitting. They rank first in the NL with a .282 average and second with a .348 OBP but fall to 10th in runs scored. That big bopper is all they need to dominate. Who’s out there other than Lance Berkman or Carlos Lee?


Under Performing


1) Boston (11-14)

When I saw them hit .500 last week I shook my head. People were worried? Oh ye of little faith! What’re you called Red Sox Nation for? With the Sox preparing to face the pro bono worst team in baseball, the Baltimore Orioles, you could seriously see a 14-11 team emerge Monday morning.

Well, a sweep did occur. It was just the Red Sox on the wrong end of it. Enough said. This team has some major age and durability issues and it may be too late to address them this year.


2) Baltimore (7-18)

Well the aforementioned sweep of Boston did wonders for this team and got them brownie points and major consideration to send them further down the list of “biggest under-performing teams” in baseball. Just not yet. A three-game series may be big, but when it comes against the other huge under performer, you have to just swallow the reality. Baltimore has stolen six bases this year. Twenty-one MLB players have that, or more, so far…


3) Los Angeles NL (11-14)

As expected, their hitting is leading the National League in hitting, and their pitching is ranked near last in ERA. They’ve also walked the second most batters in the league. With all the talent they have, don’t you think they should be at least around .500 by now? Pedro Martinez anyone?


4) Chicago AL (10-15)

The pitching could be so dominating they don’t really need a powerful lineup, so then, how on earth is Paul Konerko leading the majors in home runs? How on earth is their team ERA nearly 5.00 a game? These are questions that make no sense and so there are no answers. Yet.  

5) Los Angeles AL (12-14)

The Angels are streaky. They can look dominating one night and look like they can’t field two players who can walk sideways the next. We’re not sure what this team is made of, and the only reason you can’t write them off is because of Mike Scioscia. Imagine where the Dodgers would be if he never left after 1999.


6) Colorado (12-13)

Another streaky team, but this one is just waiting for the weather to warm up. It’s hard to believe (but that’s the beauty of baseball) that the NL West and AL Central were two of the weakest divisions five years ago, but now should be two of the strongest (besides the AL East). Ubaldo Jimenez could win a Cy Young in the next five years. How do you like those Mile High Apples?


7) Atlanta (11-14)

Jason Heyward is proving every single game that he is an incredible player. He will win at least two MVP awards in the next five years and dominate the league for the next 15. The only problem is…will Atlanta? The Bobby Cox era is ending and so perhaps is a dynasty. We were so high on this team during spring training that this just doesn’t make sense.


8) Milwaukee (10-15)

It’s hardly a surprise they are here on this list, but in reality they might be exactly where their talent suggests. They have old arms and that’s all there is to say. Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder are this team, and at the rate they are going, they’ll both be gone in five years. It’s sad but true.


Over Performing


1) San Diego (16-9)

It won’t be long before the Padres move out of here and into the top performers. They are the real deal, and with Adrian Gonzalez and rookie Kyle Blanks solidifying the power punch in an apparent “weak” lineup, Will Venable and Chase Headley as two of the most underrated hitters in the game, and a group of unproven pitchers showing that they mean business, this team could stay at the top of the division all year. One more solid week and they’ll move up.


2) Washington (13-12)

It seems weird to put a team that’s fourth in their division in a short list of over performing teams. But when you consider last year after 25 games they were 8-17, you’ve got to give them a little slack.

It is pretty impressive. While they may be in fourth, they’re really only 1.5 games back. Brign up Stephen Strasburg and really get a story going! How much would the media love S.S. in a pennant race?


Right Where They Are Supposed to Be


1) Texas (13-12)

In possibly the weakest—but most intriguing—division in baseball the Rangers are currently leading. If they can get off on a hot streak, they’ve move up into the most impressive. They’ve got fantastic pitching and a great lineup, they’ve just had a difficult April schedule.


2) New York NL (14-11)

They were 13-9 coming into the weekend against Philadelphia and won 9-1 on the last day of April. Then they faced Roy Halladay on Saturday and promptly got the eight game winning streak beat out of them (they probably don’t want me to mention Sunday…) The team looks good and can only get better when Carlos Beltran gets back.


3) Florida (14-11)

Josh Johnson and Hanley Ramirez are the same as usual. This team has talent but is going nowhere but down in an extremely competitive NL East.


4) Chicago NL (13-13)

The bottom line is that Lou Piniella is one of the smartest managers in the game. However, they are aging under everyone’s eyes and something has to give.


5) Oakland (13-13)

They’ve fallen to earth over the past week but there’s no reason they shouldn’t stay right around .500. The only trouble is they lost Brett Anderson and Kurt Suzuki. Most teams can’t compete when their Ace and starting catcher are on the disabled list and this is one of those teams.

6) Toronto (13-13)

It’s amazing that they are staying afloat now that Roy Halladay is gone. But, Ricky Romero is really impressive and Vernon Wells has taken over as the de facto leader on the team that is leading the majors in home runs.

7) Seattle (11-14)

They’ve only hit nine home runs and scored a mere 86 runs so far. It’s to be expected. But it’s also why Cliff Lee doesn’t have a chance at coming back and they’re very lucky that they signed Felix Hernandez. With all that, you have to imagine they’ll get a power bat sometime soon in a division that’s wide, wide, wide open.


8) Cincinnati (12-13)

For a team that is so inconstant it’s nice to see that they are taking their time with Aroldis Chapman. Dusty Baker is known for destroying his arms (see Wood, Kerry and Prior, Mark) so perhaps upper management is making sure he doesn’t get his paws on their $36 million dollar left arm.


9) Arizona (11-14)

It’s hard to believe but Justin Upton has more strikeouts than Mark Reynolds. Edwin Jackson just looks like the mess that Detroit knew about. Smart move for the Motor City; not so much for Arizona.


10) Kansas City (10-15)

Zach Greinke can’t even get a win here. Literally. He’s 0-3 with an ERA of 2.27.


11) Pittsburgh (10-15)

Andrew McCutchen is the only bright spot on this team. Wonder how long he’ll last.


12) Houston (8-16)

Team stats for April: Nine home runs, 70 RBI, 44 walks. Enough said. (That’s really bad, if you didn’t know).


13) Cleveland (10-14)

We had to put them last since they apparently screw their fans over so much that they are the most hated team in baseball.


Joshua David Worn  is an editor, journalist, and sportswriter who spends way too much of his time studying major league baseball box scores. He has been published or linked on The San Francisco Chronicle and CBS Sports, among others. He publishes The Most Interesting Column in Sports on his website, . Contact him at .


Read more MLB news on

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