Tag Archives: @Phl-inphielder

THE ROAD TO THE FALL CLASSIC IS OPEN

I would like to begin tonight by offering my thoughts, prayers, and condolences to all of those that were affected by the unthinkable events that unfolded in Las Vegas on Sunday night.  I’m still dumbfounded by the demented thinking of some members of the human race.

Here we are in the first week of October.  Football is now in full swing, hockey begins this evening, and basketball training camps are now open.  October means that the warmth of summer will give way to the cooling of autumn and leaves will put on a color show before falling off the trees.  But above all October means one thing in the world of sports, baseball is going to be on its biggest stage!

The 2017 Major League Baseball post-season kicked off last night with a slug-fest at Yankee Stadium in New York.  The American League Wild Card Game got off to a roaring start when the Minnesota Twins darted out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning.  The Twins were the biggest surprise in the American League this year.  They won the second Wild Card while rebounding from a 100+ loss season last year.  The Yankees came up with three runs in the bottom of the frame, and really never looked back, winning the game by the score of 8-4.  Next up for New York, the Cleveland Indians.

Tonight the National League begins its road to the World Series in the desert where the Arizona Diamondbacks will host the Colorado Rockies in their Wild Card Game.  Like the Twins, both of these teams were long-shots to be playing in October.  Arizona had a very solid year, finishing with a 93-69 record, good for a six game advantage in the Wild Card standings.  The Rockies held off a charge by the Milwaukee Brewers to claim the second wild card on the next to last day of the regular season.  The Los Angeles Dodgers await the winner of tonight’s game.

 

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The Arizona Diamondbacks celebrate clinching the first National League Wild Card.

 

I have to be honest, when Major League Baseball added a second Wild Card spot to the playoff format, I wasn’t a fan.  This further weakened the mystique of finishing in first place, which has always carried more weight in baseball than any other sport.  I will admit the concept has grown on me.  Something about a one shot, winner take all game adds a lot of drama and excitement.

Let’s take a look at the Division Series’ that will follow after tonight’s National League Wild Card tilt.

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The Los Angeles Dodgers won 104 games this year.  They will own home field advantage throughout the post-season.

 

The Los Angeles Dodgers owned the best record in the Majors this year at 104-58 and will have home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  They await the winner of tonight’s game between the Diamondbacks and Rockies.  The danger that lurks for the boys from Hollywood is the familiarity between all three teams involved.  Both National League Wild Cards came out of the west this year, these three teams know each other very well, this could be a recipe for a possible major upset.

The second seed in the National League belongs to one of two franchises that has never been in a World Series, the other one being the Seattle Mariners.  Could this be the year that the Montreal/ Washington franchise breaks their drought?  Speaking of drought beaters, the Nats will face the defending champion Chicago Cubs in the Division Series.  Will it be another year without being on the big stage for Washington?  Will the Cubs repeat or start another drought?  This should be an interesting series.

 

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Will the Chicago Cubs repeat, or begin another drought?

 

The subject of droughts runs deep into this year’s post-season.  The Cleveland Indians, who lost to the Cubs in last year’s Series now own the longest World Championship drought in baseball.  The Tribe last won the World Series in 1948, that’s 69 years ago, folks!  The Indians enter the American League playoffs as the number one seed.  Cleveland’s 22 game winning streak was one of the highlights of the regular season.  The Yankees, hot off of their Wild Card win, will oppose the Indians in the first round.  Can this be the Indians turn to make history?  They need to get past a franchise that has won more championships than any other team.

 

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Will 2017 be the Cleveland Indians turn to make history?

 

What a year it has been in Houston!  Can the Astros be a bright spot in a metropolitan area that was devastated by Hurricane Harvey?  Houston had a very solid season, and came up a game and a tiebreaker short of catching the Indians for the top seed.  The Boston Red Sox will be the Astros opponent in the first round.  Boston sputtered a bit down the stretch, but held off the Yankees to win the American League East by two games.  Will we see the next chapter of the Red Sox and Yankees?  Will the Astros claim their first American League title since switching leagues in 2013?

Baseball is a laid back game until it comes to October.  What memories await us this year?  Pull up a chair as Vin Scully used to say, history is waiting to unfold.

 

I dedicate tonight’s article to a very special fan of the Cleveland Indians.  Robin and I joined a group of some very amazing people this year as a result of Justin’s passing.  The Healing Hearts organization has been a means of tremendous support for us in dealing with the tragedy in our family.  Through Healing Hearts we became friends with this Indians fan’s mom.  Matthew Graham lost his life one year ago this past Monday.  Matthew was a huge fan of the Cleveland Indians.  If the Indians do in fact break their 69 year championship drought this year Matthew will certainly be celebrating in heaven.  Here’s to you Matthew Graham!  Rest well.

 

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WEDNESDAY NIGHT BASEBALL-PROS AND CONS OF THE WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC

The World Baseball Classic was born as a result of the International Olympic Committee removing baseball as an Olympic event in 2005.  Beginning in 2006, Major League Baseball, the MLB Players Association and International Baseball Federation developed the idea of a World Cup style tournament to determine an international World Champion.

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I’m all for international competition in any sport.  With the return of baseball to the Olympic Stage in 2020, I would love to see MLB send players to Tokyo the same way the NHL has since 1998.  Every time NHL commissioner Gary Bettman hints at pulling the plug on the league’s Olympic involvement, it makes me cringe.

Here’s where I have a problem, it’s the scheduling.  Why on earth would you have the best players in the world represent their country when they haven’t played meaningful baseball since September or October?

Pitchers and catchers will begin filtering into training camps in mid February.  Position players will follow roughly a week later.  The World Baseball Classic is scheduled to begin on March 6th.  Why would any owner, or the players association risk having their brightest stars play full tilt away from their team when they should be loosening up and performing infield drills and soft tossing?  The NHL did the same thing this past preseason when they staged the World Cup of Hockey.  That tournament resulted in injuries to players and put them behind in training camp!  I do realize that hockey is a more physical sport than baseball and the training camp is much shorter.

My point here is that players aren’t ready, and even if they are, they aren’t where they need to be this time of year.  What if the likes of Max Scherzer blows out his elbow?  What if there is a collision between Andrew McCuthchen and Giancarlo Stanton in the outfield? It’s too risky this early in my opinion for such high profile players to be playing full tilt.

Image result for giancarlo stanton Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins (Team USA)

That being said, I do believe that the WBC is a great idea .  Here’s my thought, even though some players are a little beat up by late September and into the post-season, they are still in full tilt playing form.  The venues that are selected are either indoors or in warm climates.  The weather and conditions in November and December are similar to the conditions in March.  Miami, San Diego, and Los Angeles are the three American venues this year.  Tokyo’s Tokyo Dome is hosting one Oriental pool, while South Korea is playing host indoors as well.  The other venues are in the Caribbean and Mexico.

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Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles.  Venue for the WBC Finals

 

Of course, there is still the risk of injuries and accidents, but the players won’t be coming out of the off-season.  Any minor injury will have the rest of the winter to heal and have the player ready for a full Spring Training.  Although there is always a risk of an injury to a player it’s less likely to happen when players are in condition.

Commissioner Manfred, I ask that you consider moving this tournament to the end of the season.