Author Archives: thetaoofgriffin

What a Wonderfully Strange Game

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The game of baseball is universal, and possesses a broad appeal. It is enjoyed and followed by the masses for a variety of reasons. The current World Series has reminded me of yet another reason to enjoy this great game. The fact that literally anything can happen at any given moment, most likely when you least expect it, creates palpable excitement. Also, when watching or attending a ballgame, there is always the possibility of seeing something that has never happened before. This possibility, more than any other sport, contributes to the mysticism of baseball. Read the rest of this entry

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Really, St. Louis? Really?

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Audible sigh.

So, the Cardinals are back in the World Series. Again.

By my count, that makes four World Series appearances in the past 10 seasons. The Cardinals were swept by the Red Sox in 2004, and then beat Detroit in 2006. This was after winning the N.L. Central with a record of 83-78. Really? In 2011, St. Louis took down the Rangers in seven games, and now, two years later, they are back again.

Since the 2000 season, the Cardinals have made 10 playoff appearances. Yes, that is correct. St. Louis has only stayed home for the playoffs four times in the past 14 seasons. Read the rest of this entry

One Swing of the Bat

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Well, there is some drama for you.

Game 2 of the American League Championship Series between the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers was essentially over. The Tigers had already taken Game 1, and were enjoying a 5-1 lead in the eighth inning of Game 2, about to go up 2-0 in the best of seven series. They would also be returning home with Justin Verlander on the mound for Game 3. Detroit was in a very enviable position, to put it mildly. However, this scenario did not play out, and the series is now tied one game apiece and is very much in doubt. Read the rest of this entry

A Cubbie Postmortem

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Expectations were tempered for the 2013 Chicago Cubs. Of course, expectations are frequently lowered on the North Side as a defense mechanism and coping device. There was good reason for this lack of confidence, and many losses were predicted. However, once these losses begin to occur and you become exposed to the reality of the final tally, it is a bit sobering.

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Game 163

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There is something almost perverse about being required to play one additional game after completing a grueling 162-game MLB schedule. The grind of the regular season is taxing enough, not to mention the pressure of the September stretch run, where teams are battling for a division title or wild card berth. But sometimes, even after all of this baseball is played, the playoff dance card is not quite full, and one more game is necessary. Read the rest of this entry

The Anatomy of a Closer

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Most would agree that a solid bullpen is essential to winning consistently in MLB. Over a 162 game season, a team will find themselves in many tight games, and a team’s record in such games will invariably be a significant determinant to overall success.

A solid bullpen requires a strong backend, including a lock down closer. Committees have been attempted in the past, either by design or necessity, but it is much more desirable to run one guy out there consistently in save situations. Read the rest of this entry

Fonzie Is Raking

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Alfonso Soriano has enjoyed a very interesting career. He has played in both the National and American Leagues with a total of four teams, including one twice. He has delighted some with his play, and frustrated others. He has even been something of a polarizing figure, particularly in Chicago, where he spent the better part of seven seasons roaming the outfield for the Cubs. However, setting these notions aside for a moment, let us stop and behold the season Soriano is currently enjoying. Because folks, Fonzie is flat out raking.

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Profiles in Cub Courage: Kris Bryant

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One of the few benefits of finishing with a dismal record is the opportunity to select a highly regarded talent in the MLB Amateur Draft. As a result of their 61-101 finish in 2012, the Chicago Cubs were gifted with the second pick in the 2013 amateur draft. After the Houston Astros took Mark Appel first overall, the Cubs selected third baseman Kris Bryant.

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September Beckons

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Is it September already? Yes, it would appear so. Where exactly has the season gone?

One by-product of September in MLB is roster expansion, as the 25-man roster expands, and any player on the official 40-man roster is eligible to play for the big club. These September call-ups can provide some nice fodder for discussion, as it can be interesting to speculate on what prospects may get a look in the final month of the season. Read the rest of this entry

The Reverse Standings

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In MLB, there are teams that contend annually, and consistently find themselves at or near the top of the standings. There is typically a group of teams that are somewhere in the middle of the pack, fighting off mediocrity and trying to take that next step. As the season progresses, these teams will either make a move and contend, remain average, or even regress down the ladder.

This brings us to the final group, one of which there is very little optimism to be found. Fans of such teams are more or less resigned to their fate, and have only trade deadline activity and draft position to fill the time late in the season. This is where the reverse standings come into play. Read the rest of this entry

The Charm and Whimsy of Minor League Baseball

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Ok, whimsy is a bit much, but it is a fun word. The point is that attending a minor league baseball game is a good time, and can be compared favorably to the major league experience. Regardless of the team affiliation or classification, these games present a fun, affordable alternative to a major league ballgame, particularly if you have young children and the family is in tow. Read the rest of this entry

The Essential National League Central Division Companion

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The N.L. Central has been arguably the best division in baseball for 2013 thus far, certainly in the National League itself. This division has been decidedly pedestrian for some time, but is now becoming something of a force. The Cardinals are always there, but the Reds are becoming a more consistent threat, and the Pirates renaissance appears to be upon us.

These factors have resulted in a very top-heavy division this season, with the possibility of producing three 90-win teams, as well as both wild card entries from the National League. The balance may not be there just yet, but the quality is clearly evident.

Here is a quick glimpse at each team in the division, in order of current standings. Read the rest of this entry

The Fundamentals of Catching a Foul Ball or Home Run

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After reading the title of this piece, one might logically be expecting some sort of insight into successfully catching and securing a souvenir at a ballgame. However, in this case, you would be mistaken. What follows is a brief account of how I completely and unequivocally failed in this very task in front of a rather large group of people. Actually, there is not much to this story beyond my own embarrassment. Read the rest of this entry

Matt Garza to Texas: A Synopsis

ImageFortunately for all concerned, Garza will not be required to hit in the A.L.

 

In arguably the highest profile trade so far this season, Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza was dealt to the Texas Rangers for a package of young prospects, including third baseman Mike Olt. Read the rest of this entry