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Wednesday, 12 December 2018 16:23

Hall of Fame surprise for Harold Baines

The Baseball Hall of Fame just got a hell of a lot more inclusive.

The Today’s Game Era committee announced that they have selected two players for inclusion in next year’s Hall of Fame class.

One is Lee Smith, a pitcher who spent a long stretch as the most feared closer in the game. He was the all-time saves leader for a stretch – he’s currently third – and at one point surpassed 50 percent of the vote in the regular BBWAA balloting. He was a unanimous choice of the 16-member committee.

The other is Harold Baines. He was a compiler, the sort of guy you labeled “professional hitter.” He never cleared seven percent on the writers’ ballot and fell off completely after five years.

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 20 November 2018 12:00

Who’s Cooperstown-bound in 2019?

It’s Hall of Fame season once again.

The Baseball Hall of Fame has released its ballot for the 2019 induction season. It’s a top-heavy ballot, meaning that the recent spate of large classes may well continue. There are some new names that will get a lot of attention and a few holdovers that might be ready to make the leap.

As far as the newcomers go, there are four that will likely be at the forefront of the conversation. Yankees closer Mariano Rivera has joined the ballot for the first time, as has his longtime teammate Andy Pettitte. Starting pitcher Roy Halladay, who passed away tragically last year, and first baseman Todd Helton round out the truly notable first-timers. Two are likely enshrinees; two will be on the outside looking in.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 31 October 2018 12:58

Remembering (and ranking) Red Sox titles

Chalk up another championship for the Boston Red Sox.

When a Chris Sale fastball blew past the talented malcontent Manny Machado and the Sox beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, clinching their fourth World Series title of this still-young century, my first thought was that I was actually almost sad that it was over. My immediate reaction was that this was one of the most fun teams for which I’ve ever had the chance to root. And that it was one of the best.

But is it THE best?

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 23 October 2018 17:45

Red Sox – Dodgers: A World Series preview

After six months and 162 games – plus a couple of hard-fought playoff series – MLB’s remaining contenders have been whittled down to just two. The Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers will be facing off in the 2018 World Series. This will mark the 114th edition of the Fall Classic.

The Dodgers are back for the second consecutive year after outlasting the Milwaukee Brewers in a nail-biter of an NLCS that went the full seven games. The Red Sox are here thanks to a surprisingly brisk five-game dispatching of the Houston Astros in the ALCS.

Despite the fact that these are two of the oldest franchises in MLB history – and two of the most successful – this marks the first time in over a century that these squads have faced off in October. The last time was all the way back in 1916 – so long ago that the Dodgers not only hadn’t moved out of Brooklyn, they weren’t even called the Dodgers – they went by the sobriquet “Robins” at that time.

So let’s have a look, shall we?

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 03 October 2018 12:32

Road to the World Series 2018

Another long MLB season has come to an end. All 162 regular season games (and a couple of 163s) have been played. And as of this writing, just 10 remain with a chance to take home a World Series championship. Two-thirds of the league’s teams have packed it in and headed home for a long winter of wondering what might have been and awaiting the arrival of next spring and the ever-present hope that that season brings.

But now, it’s time to look ahead to what this postseason might have in store for us.

Rather than trying to put together a series-by-series breakdown, let us take a general look at the respective championship chances of all 10 remaining teams, ranking their World Series likelihoods in ascending order.

It’s all guesswork, obviously – heck, if I knew anything, I’d have gotten more than six out of the 10 playoff teams right in our MLB season preview back in March. I feel reasonably good about these new rankings, so this list will almost certainly turn out to be laughably inaccurate.

But hey – fortune favors the bold.

(Note: As of press time, the two wild card games had yet to be played. Thus, all four Wild Card teams are included on this list.)

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 03 October 2018 12:24

Red Sox Report Card – September 2018

And thus the best regular season in Boston Red Sox history comes to an end.

It wasn’t necessarily a September to remember in the micro sense – the Sox put up a record of just 15-11 over the course of the month – but in the macro sense, they put the finishing touches on the winningest season in the century-plus existence of the team, 108 wins in all.

That being said, it wasn’t as though Boston finished strong. The record wasn’t terrible, but it belied the struggles of the team. The pitching in particular had a less-than-stellar September. It’s not exactly the note on which you want to head into the postseason.

Even with that seemingly sub-par performance, however, this team was fourth in the American League in terms of winning percentage for the month. Basically, even when this team is at its worst, it’s one of the league’s best. In advance of everything being reset to zero as we head into the playoffs, let’s take a look back at the final month of the 2018 regular season.

On to the Report Card.

Published in Sports

So we’re pulling the trigger just a little early for our final MLB Award picks. There are still a handful of games left to be played as this goes to print, but the truth is that none of the races are so close that the final picks are likely to change.

(Feel free to point this out to me after one of the contenders goes off and hits half-a-dozen homers or whatever and makes me look foolish.)

It has been a remarkable year in Major League Baseball, with all of the requisite ups and downs that come with the longest regular season in American professional sports. Through it all, there have been a few players who have outshined the rest. Some have been steady all season, while others have ridden periodic, meteoric hot streaks to gaudy final numbers. All have earned their spots in this conversation, but there can only be one winner of these trophies.

Here they are: 2018’s final Clubhouse Leaders.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 05 September 2018 10:59

Red Sox Report Card - August 2018

2018 has turned out to be quite a year, hasn’t it?

With one month remaining in the season, the Red Sox look poised to complete one of the best – if not THE best – regular seasons in their long and storied history. They even have an outside shot at the all-time wins record of 116, set by the 2001 Seattle Mariners, although a late August swoon put that record all but mathematically out of reach.

Still – they’ll almost certainly cruise past the century mark, a total surpassed by just three Red Sox teams. And barring a significant losing streak, they’ll probably stroll past the franchise wins record of 105 set by the 1912 Sox.

August certainly helped the cause, with Boston going 18-9. The pitching saw some periods of struggle, but the offense had yet another exceptional month, with a pair of MVP candidates leading the way. All told, this team is a strong September away from one of the highest win totals of all time.

On to the Report Card.

Published in Sports

We’re in mid-August and entering the home stretch of the Major League Baseball season. By the time you read this, teams will have roughly 40 games left until playoff time. It looks like there are some foregone conclusions, but also a few hard-fought races – particularly for some of the squads battling it out for the wild card bids.

The races for MLB’s individual awards are in a similar state. Some of these seem to be all but over, while others feature players going head-to-head with extraordinary performances. Take a look and see what kind of movement we’re dealing with here.

This is Clubhouse Leaders.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 01 August 2018 09:08

Red Sox Report Card – July 2018

We might be witnessing something special.

As we enter into the dog days of August, the Red Sox sit atop the AL East with a nice lead over the division rival Yankees. While it seems unlikely that Boston can maintain this torrid pace for another two months, the truth is that if they do, they will have had a legitimately historic season in terms of wins and losses. They’re basically 30 wins away from their best-ever regular season and not many more than that from one of the best seasons in MLB history.

Obviously, there’s a long way to go before we get there. On-pace numbers are among the trickiest in sports. While there are some trash teams out there, the Yankees are looming; Houston and Cleveland, too. Still – there’s a chance of all-time regular season greatness for this squad.

There’s still a lot of baseball to be played, but as we close in on the three-quarter mark of the regular season, it’s starting to look possible. And with a team possessed of a history as storied as that of the Red Sox, any opportunity to see an all-time best is awfully exciting. They keep playing like this and the sky is the limit.

On to the Report Card.

Published in Sports
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