Friday, July 27, 2007
I also have three days coming up this weekend, even if the great majority of the time will be occupied with sleeping. Hey, people, I had to get up at 4:45 this morning. Don't judge. Also, I'm having a royally, royally rotten day, am consumed in bitterness and misery, and will try to tone down the venom.
Boston: I predicted their usual second-fiddle finish to the Yankees in a top-heavy division, but instead they're burning up the league, leading everybody at a ridiculous 61-40 clip, just edging out the Tigers for the best record in baseball and enjoying a margin that's been as wide as 14 games, even if it's been whittled to 6.5 at the moment and making the Beantown fans sweat it out again. Second Half: Although their fans have been conditioned to expect collapse, it would be fairly surprising indeed if the Sox turned into the 1978 versions of themselves and let the Yankees come all the way back... but you never know.
New York: I bowed to the mojo, even if I hate them violently, and figured they'd be setting the tone atop the East again, but they've looked extremely mortal for large portions of the season. They briefly put together a hot streak, winning 11 of 12, then came to Colorado and got swept by Todd and the Toddlers (proudest moment of my life) , skidding aimlessly into the break and looking like a done deal. Of course, then they began winning games against weak opponents and trying to find their own Bucky Dent, attempting to build on a 54-46 record and chip away at the Sox lead. Second Half: I hate the Yankees (I may have mentioned this) but I can't deny that they bear an unnerving resemblance to a cockroach or an earthworm (in more ways than one). If anybody has learned anything, it's that you can't count George Steinbrenner's Traveling All-Stars out completely.
Toronto: I thought they'd at least be competitive, and predicted that they'd make at least a few fans in New York and Boston sweat, but instead, the Blue Jays haven't done that much (not that they ever had a realistic shot of cracking the Sox/Yanks stronghold, and at least I tabbed them to end up in third, the slot they're currently inhabiting). Despite the Rocky Mountain News' readers bewilderingly naming Toronto as the majors' best team, they have a strong offense (Wells, Glaus, Thomas, and an emergent Rios? Yikes) and yet can't mount enough of a push. They currently stand at 51-50, one game clear of the break-even mark -- and ergo, not bad, not good. Second Half: Barring an intercessory act of God, there's little chance Toronto clears their accustomed spot. They should pick out curtains and a wallpaper pattern for third place.
Baltimore: Peter Angelos, recently (and deservedly) named in Jon Heyman's SI.com article as one of the worst owners in baseball, still has his talons embedded in this floundering franchise, so until then, there's not a realistic chance that somebody will perform the overhaul needed to transform the Orioles from pretender to contender. MLB K leader Erik Bedard is a pleasant surprise, establishing himself as an ace on anybody's staff, and youngster Jeremy Guthrie has also stepped it up. Sam Perlozzo, to nobody's surprise, was fired and was replaced with interim manager Davey Trembley, who has skippered the O's to nine wins in 13 games coming out of the break. Still, they're 47-53, and they have more of a chance to win the East than I do of marrying Jason Hirsh. (And don't ask me about that, I'm still upset). Second Half: Not much of interest. Have hot streaks, have cold streaks. Finish in fourth again.
Tampa Bay: Unpopular opinion time: The Devil Rays are given far, far too much credit. Everyone talks about how they're a tough young team, how Maddon will pick up Piniella's slack and lead them from doormat to sudden contender, but let's face facts: Rocco Baldelli stays healthy for five minutes at a time. James Shields has turned back into a pumpkin. Scott Kazmir and Carl Crawford can't do it alone. And as long as the Tropicana Juice Box attracts 5000 fans a night (8000 on promo days) the Devil Rays are going to continue to play exactly the way their 38-63 record suggests. Second Half: More of the same.
Detroit: I expressed skepticism that they'd be able to follow up their Cinderella run with another successful season, but they're doing just that, ripping along at a 60-41 mark and just behind the Red Sox for the best record in baseball. They're actually better on the road than they are at home (34-20 vs. 26-21) and despite Joe Morgan's bewildering insistence that Gary "Loudmouth" Sheffield is the sole reason for their offensive prowess (Joe, A) they were a good-hitting club last year, and b) have you, uh, heard of Magglio Ordonez) their strength still lies in their pitching. Rogers went down and they didn't miss a beat, as Justin Verlander is turning in a sterling sophomore effort and already has a no-hitter to his credit. Second Half: If the Tigers can fight off the marauding Indians, they should make a return playoff visit. They'll have their work cut out for them to get back to the Fall Classic, though, let alone win it.
Cleveland: I underestimated them, figuring they'd resemble their 2006 selves more than their 2005 selves, but I was wrong yet again, and they're fighting the Tigers tooth and nail, currently only one game arrears of the Motor City Kitties and sporting a shiny 59-42 record. Cleveland is usually a solid club, and is making a very real push for the AL Central title. Detroit lost it (thanks to the Royals) in the final few days of the season last year, so nothing's impossible. Second Half: My previous pick to click in the Central, the Twins, uh... didn't live up to it, so I'll jinx the Indians by picking them. Apologies to Tribe fans.
Minnesota: The Twins made a sweep of the major awards last season -- Cy Young for Santana, AL batting title for Mauer, and MVP for Morneau (who has 28 HR this season and is trailing only Alex Rodriguez -- I think -- in the AL). So why are they so bad, or at least, not that good? (51-50 as of this writing). Answer: No one after Santana in the rotation, His Johanness looking mortal, not enough hitting, and just plain bad luck. I thought they'd be the team to beat in this division, but overestimated them while similarly undervaluing the Tigers and Indians. Second Half: Unless they can snatch out the Central title with hours on the clock like they did last year, the Twins really don't have a realistic shot at unseating the leaders.
Chicago: Man, what a meteoric plummet. I guess the White Sox realized that although they've gotten off the World Series schneid, they're still supposed to be a bad team. They've fulfilled that billing admirably, waffling along ten games under .500 and only two ahead of the Royals for possession of the cellar. The offense I talked up in the beginning of the year has taken a season-long catnap and GM Kenny Williams has gone into rumored fire sale mode with his starters, who I correctly tabbed as mediocre. (At least I got SOMETHING right). Jon Garland, Javier Vasquez, and Jose Contreras are all on the block for the right price, as Williams tries to wring a king's ransom for average-to-bad pitchers. But since the market for starters is so thin, he may be able to command a decent return anyway. The same can't be said of his team, who will tread water at best. Second Half: Nothing worthy of note. The Sox already got their highlight with Mark Buehrle's no-hitter (conversely, the only pitcher that's definitely staying after he got an extension).
Kansas City: Like anybody's surprised. 43-57 and still solidly in last in one of baseball's toughest divisions, in this case by a 16.5-game gap. Gil Meche, the much-maligned, has been all right (7-7, 3.76) and, just as I predicted, got named an All-Star. While it wasn't quite the Mark Redman silliness, it still shows that the All-Star Game is a joke.... What? The Royals? They're still not worth mentioning and are a few years at least, possibly a decade, away from contending. Plus, they're still owned by David Glass. Second Half: Does anybody still follow the Royals? Well, if they do, they are brave souls, are to be commended, and will probably be treated to more bad baseball.
Anaheim: I refuse to call them by their full (and ridiculous) name. And they are fulfilling my prediction that they'd take the West, except they're doing it quite a bit more handily than I thought they would. They're leading by three and a half games, but their chief challenger is not the Athletics -- it's the surprising Mariners. The Angels have a stable of prospects to shop, strong pitching, and have a few holes they need to patch, but they still have Vlad Guerrero, who one of these days will probably swing at an intentional walk pitch and hit it over the fence. Second Half: I was right, there's no unseating the Ridiculous Names atop the West, who will probably win yet another playoff berth. As long as they take out the Yankees in the first round, it's all good.
Seattle: Everyone, myself included, didn't really expect the Mariners to make a push this year -- and then they went and did it anyway, kicking into a higher gear after a typically disappointing start to the season. They currently sit at 54-45, but are currently embroiled in a bit of a skid, just breaking a five-game losing streak. Mike Hargrove's puzzling resignation as the Mariners were their hottest didn't appear to matter much at first, and interim manager John McLaren has done a fine job. The Mariners locked up franchise cornerstone Ichiro Suzuki at five years and $90 million, which I expect will be another mistake contract by the time it's run its duration -- what big-money pact isn't? -- but I guess they weren't going to let him walk. The rotation is still suspect, but it remains to be seen how long Seattle can make it work. Second Half: May make Los Angeles Angels of Huntington Beach Lakewood hot under the collar, but doubtful that they'll unseat them.
Oakland: Well, I blew it. Perhaps I have a tendency (well, yes, I do) to bias my predictions in favor of teams I like, and I guess I failed to properly take into account that Oakland has a team made of china men who fall over at the slightest breeze. Well, I did, but one has to wonder what the hell Larry Davis is doing to make the A's use the DL whenever and wherever somebody breathes too hard. That and Joe Kennedy really is as bad as his numbers suggest, Chad Gaudin is becoming human again after a Cy-like start, and Dan Haren, despite starting the All-Star Game, has scuffled in July to tarnish his previously sub-2 ERA. The A's have been forced to use so many call-ups they might as well rename themselves the Rivercats, and I think I'm officially done with Rich Harden. Makes a few starts, does brilliantly, hurts himself and disappears. The best theory now is try to keep him in bubble wrap for a couple weeks and peddle him off on a GM who still thinks he's not the next Kerry Wood/Mark Prior/Mike Hampton. Second Half: The A's entered the break in need of a patented second-half surge to get them out of the doldrums and back into contention, but it's not going to happen. They're 48-53, under .500 and pretty much done for the season, and it'll be interesting to see who stays and who goes come July 31.
Texas: If the Rangers thought that hiring fiery Ron Washington was going to help light a fire under their underachieving rears, they were mistaken. They're a sad 46-56, solidly in the cellar (although Oakland has only three games to work with) and rumors have bubbled up of Washington's hard-nose style not playing well in the clubhouse and creating a schism between manager and players. The Rangers still have no pitching (hard to believe Kevin Millwood was the AL ERA leader a few years ago) and Mark Teixeira is seemingly a lock to be traded before the deadline. On the bright side, they have C.J. Wilson. Read his blog. Second Half: Nothing really worth remarking on. C.J. may write some more and make me laugh.
Okay, that's done. Gah... that took too long, spanned the entire time it took for me to watch the Rockies lose 5-4 to the Dodgers, and didn't make me feel better about this royally rotten day. Seriously, everything that could go wrong did, and I'm hoping that tomorrow will be better. It pretty much has to be.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Okay, scratch that. Matty Effin' Holliday just cracked his 17th homer of the year to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth, a three-run blast off Scott Linebrink to bring it even at 5-5. This is more runs than the Rockies have scored in three games (cough cough) and it is good to see that they are not meekly trotting off and letting San Diego --
Hahaha, wow. Brandon (Brad Hawpe) with his 18th homer of the year, bumping Colorado ahead 7-5. He couldn't bear to let Holliday have the team homer lead, even for a few minutes. Manny Corpas gets a strikeout, gives up a single, then a forceout, goes 3-0 on Brian Giles, and then makes him look at three straight to end the game. The Rockies pull out a highly improbable win against the Pads in the opening game of the series, a seven-game homestand against chief competitors San Diego and Los Angeles -- a homestand that will prove once and for all if they should harbor playoff ambitions this year, or just be content with finishing over .500. It would be nice not to suck for once, so I think for now I'll be content with that, but if they should put together a Hollywood-schmaltz run and somehow manage to, you know, contend, I won't complain.
Perhaps it is a symbiotic link -- I revive the temporarily defunct blogging, the Rockies score as many runs in one game as they did in ALL of the Washington series (grrr). For the sake of my beloveds, I shall attempt to do so more often, at least until I start a new novel and the sticky m key stops driving me crazy. Ah well.
ANYWAY. As I have said, I have been very busy, and hope to make more time in the future. That said, I have several exciting things to report from the front lines of reality, a puzzling phenomenon that still soaks up far more of my time than I would otherwise appreciate. I'm still working at Starbucks, which is not a bad job but is not, well, baseball -- ah well, I just have to keep myself busy by thinking about it, which is something I do most of the time anyway. Aside from spending too much money and looking forward to getting back to school in September, I am also planning to rendezvous this Saturday, July 28, with a crowd of friends at the Rockies/Dodgers game. It's going to be fun -- me, my sister, and my friends Betsy and A.J. are going to meet up with three other posters from Purple Row, and we have seats seven rows back of the right-field wall, close to Hawpe and definitely not out of the realm of homer-catching possibility. It will have been exactly three weeks since I've been to a game (my last was July 7 against Philly) and it feels like forever. I have a problem. I also (finally!) got a digital camera, so I shall record the insanity that is sure to become contagious when seven die-hard Rox fans get together (seven fans, seven rows back, yeah, yeah, it's a coincidence) and cheer for their team against the Bastards in Blue, more properly euphemized as the Los Angeles Dodgers. No more waiting to develop film and save photos off a CD; it's nice to have and with a memory card I ended up getting for free, it's good for 200 photos.
Also, I am planning two exciting baseball trips for next year. Betsy and I are scheming for her to drive out to New York to pick me up when school ends in May, then have the two of us hit up Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium, and Cooperstown, probably in something of that order, depending on how the 2008 schedule works out. (We need that now to plan this all, grr). We would then drive back to Colorado from New York, possibly stopping in St. Louis and/or assorted other baseball cities on the way home. If things align accordingly, my friend Justin may fly out from San Diego to join us, which would also be awesome -- three hardcore baseball fans road-tripping it across the country, me fresh off my sophomore year in college and preparing to go abroad to Oxford in the fall. If all the stars line up, 2008 could be the best year of my life to date, which isn't saying much when you're only 19, but hey, it's good to be excited and to have plans.
When I get back home to Colorado, my sister will have graduated from high school, and we're planning a road-trip to California to celebrate. We'll drive to either San Diego or Los Angeles and then up the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco, obviously catching a game at every locale possible. If we get REALLY lucky, the Rockies will be making a West Coast swing (why isn't that
'08 schedule out yet??) and we can cheer them on in enemy turf. (Hey, if I can laugh off Shea bleacher creatures, I can take whatever venom the Blue Crew and Laptop Yuppies can dish).
I'm happy. I'm in a good place in my life right now. I have a decent job that's making money to fuel all my planned baseball/educational exploits, I'm enjoying a summer with a baseball team that I love, I have a lot of friends (for the first time in my life) and yet I'm really looking forward to getting back to school this fall. I have a single room (hurray!) which means that I can bedeck it out with tokens of my fanaticism and not have to deal with roommates. I'm looking forward to resuming my studies, want to get back to my happy places in Bronxville, and have planned out which classes I want to take. Some friends and I are planning to hit up Yankees and Mets games in September to make up for the lack of Rockies games, and I really feel as if I'm moving forward with my life at a good speed and I'm where I should be. I am a healthy, well-adjusted person (I really am, despite the conversations that Betsy and I have occasionally, all of which involving me laughing my ass off while squirming and wishing I had never seen some of it. No, I won't tell you the details).
So, if I fail to update regularly (and I'll do my best, given the magic mojo it brought my boys) it's not because I'm dead. It's just because I'm busy.
P.S. Chris Carpenter's one-start season officially came to an end a few days ago when it was announced he'll need Tommy John (not a great surprise, sadly) and will miss the rest of 2007 and part of 2008 as well. That five-year, $65-million contract is looking like less of a bargain and more of an albatross, but you can't plan for injuries and stuff like this is just part of the game. In conclusion, I suck at predicting things.
Saturday, July 07, 2007
Sorry for the lackadaisical blogging on a number of accounts: first, I'm working full-time and prefer to use my scanty time in the evenings to work on my novel instead of recapping the Rockies, and besides, until recently, the Rockies were a source of acute agony for me due to the 1-9 road trip they just suffered through, no thanks to Fuentes. (I am feeling marginally more charitable towards him now, if only because he's sitting out the next few games and seems to genuinely feel bad/be angry about his monumental fuckups). Thirdly, my computer has decided that it hates Blogger and freezes whenever I open the page in Netscape, or will not allow me to give the post a title in Internet Explorer, so I have to switch back and forth between the two in hopes of finding something that will permit me to actually update. I opened this post in Explorer, tiptoed through Netscape trying not to freeze it, and managed to get somewhere, but I remain convinced it will crash at any moment -- even though the new auto-save feature is great, I'm sure that clicking it will cause massive system failures. Oy.
Aside from the fact that the stadium was sold out and almost everyone there actually were
The offense is now clicking very nicely -- tablesetters Willy Taveras and Kaz Matsui use their speed to get on base and discomfit the opposition, Holliday hits a double or a homer or something else that leaves the infield at a high rate of speed, Helton fouls off six and works a walk, and then Atkins, Hawpe, and Tulowitzki are waiting to take advantage. (Tulo is hitting .285 with 9 homers, is a fantastic all-around player, and is endlessly confident. Atkins remarked that Tulo's not happy with his numbers because he thinks he should be hitting above .300 -- I love the kid's swagger and the shot in the arm he brings to the club, especially with a manager who, um, doesn't really have the winning attitude). This is a very hard lineup to get through without getting hurt -- even Yorvit Torrealba and Chris Iannetta, the constantly platooned catchers, have shown signs of offensive spark and Torrealba is 8-for-16 in his past few games. The offense was never the problem on the Road Trip from Hell, just the relieving, and with Fuentes taking a seat due to a sore back (he'll also miss the All-Star Game, which clearly he was elected into before the previous week's debacle) the bullpen looks suddenly much more trustworthy. (They worked six shutout innings last night in relief of Jeff Francis, who only went five and permitted six runs against the Phillies).
But back to that Mets game. Not only did Atkins, Hawpe, and Helton hit, everyone else hit, as well. The problem was Josh Fogg, who permitted a first-inning three-run homer to David Wright that (very briefly) made the
But anyway, about the rest of the game. The
Then they turned off all the stadium lights -- have you ever been in a full-to-capacity baseball field at night with all the lights off, except for the eerie glow from the guide lights and the hundreds of flicking flashbulbs? Neither had I, until then. AMAZING, especially when you're lying on the outfield grass of Coors Field barefoot, cheering loudly with everyone else as fireworks begin to shoot up just beyond the Jumbotron. Awesome fireworks, too, and they were playing some great music -- when "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong came on, my sister and I just looked at each other and went, "Yeah." The fireworks were so loud you could feel them all the way into the ground -- it was just one of those moments that I never wanted to end. Another one of the best nights of this summer, and the reason that the hardest thing for me to leave when I return to college in the fall (something that I am looking forward to) will be the
Last night they rallied back from a 6-1 deficit to win 7-6 in 11 innings, on Yorvit Torrealba's squibbler of a game-winning single. Who cares, I'll take them however they come, will probably be half relieved and half bored stupid during the All-Star Break, and look forward to see what my boys in purple and black do next. I'm going to the game again tonight, and since Rodrigo Lopez is pitching, I will have seen all the