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Wednesday, 03 April 2019 13:06

Possible MLB milestones coming in 2019

Baseball is a game that has always held its own history in high regard. And one of the best ways to keep track of that history has been through statistical milestones, numbers that have come to act as a sort of distillation of greatness. Round numbers that represent on-field brilliance in an easy-to-understand way.

Granted, changes in the game are in turn changing these milestones. The way the game is played and the meaning of the numbers being tallied isn’t what it once was; the sabermetric revolution has altered how we look at these statistics. Still, there’s something undeniably special about those iconic career marks. While their relevance may fade someday, we’re not there yet.

Here are a few milestones that might be reached in 2018:

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 20 March 2019 12:27

Play ball! A 2019 MLB Preview

It might be hard to believe, considering how much snow we’ve seen recently, but spring is here. Whatever the weather says, the truth is that baseball season is just around the corner! Spring training is coming to a conclusion – we’re on the verge of seeing games that count!

There’s plenty to be excited about in 2019. The biggest contracts in the history of the game have been signed. The stars are poised to pick up where they left off; reigning MVPs (Mookie Betts and Christian Yelich) and Cy Young winners (Blake Snell and Jacob deGrom) and Rookies of the Year (Shohei Ohtani and Juan Soto) are all ready to get back to work. Meanwhile, new faces like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Eloy Jimenez are almost here. Plus, there are the names that we don’t know well (or at all) yet, but who will capture our attention before the season is through.

There are going to be a lot of home runs and a lot of strikeouts. There will be stars who perform to expectations and unknowns who shock the world. There will be delightful highs and unfortunate lows. There’s no way to say for certain what will go down on the field in 2019.

But let’s give it a go anyway.

Published in Cover Story

The times have changed with regards to major league baseball and free agency. The last couple of years have seen a drastic alteration in how owners have approached the business. Teams are far more reluctant to offer up the big-money deals that once ruled the landscape; even the best players are getting waited out.

However, we could feel relatively confident that we wouldn’t get TOO deep into spring training before the market’s two shiniest stars – Manny Machado and Bryce Harper – would be signed to deals at or near the level they sought. In a game of contract chicken that was the biggest talking point of the entire offseason, both men held out for what they believed themselves to be worth.

Eventually, they found teams that shared that belief.

Published in Sports

Another year, another big class voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Cooperstown’s Class of 2019 features four inductees voted in by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) – including the first-ever unanimous Hall of Famer.

Longtime Yankees closer Mariano Rivera became the first player to be named on every single ballot, breaking the percentage record of 99.3 set three years ago by Ken Griffey Jr. Rivera is joined by the late Roy Halladay – also in his first year on the ballot – as well as career Seattle Mariner Edgar Martinez in his last year of eligibility and longtime starting pitcher Mike Mussina.

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
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