Results tagged ‘ Stephen Strasburg ’

The Filibuster

How did you guess the Cards would get past the Nats?

Eric
Reston, VA

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Guess?  Eric, in my world, Guess is a brand of jeans, not a verb.  This, my friend, is destiny.

The Tigers and Cardinals have a history and that history refuses to be delayed by something as simple as the Washington Nationals.  Now, a Nationals team with Stephen Strasburg taking the ball in games 1 and 5, that could have been a different story.  But as we all know, Strasburg wasn’t there and the Nats couldn’t make a 6-0 lead hold up in game 5.  On top of that, the Cards got a huge boost with the successful return of Chris Carpenter.

So, let’s do the math.  The Cards add Carpenter while the Nats subtract Strasburg.  If the old adage that “Pitching wins championships” is true, then the Nats never had a chance.  And the facts bear this out.

Now, to be fair, none of this entered my thought processes while making my predictions.  I didn’t sit down and draw out the strengths and weaknesses of the teams or look at the probable pitching match-ups.  That wasn’t necessary.

Here’s the thing: The Nats are a young team with a bunch of stars and they’ll be back.  They have a great bullpen (despite Storen’s meltdown in Game 5) and with pitchers like Zimmerman and Strasburg along with stars like Harper, they have a bright future.  The Cards, though, they’ve been here before and they know how to deal with the pressure.  On top of that, they barely even made it in and without a lucky in-field fly-rule call during the play-in, they probably wouldn’t even be here.   Since no one expects them to do much, despite being the defending champions, there’s very little pressure.  They have nothing to lose.

But let me get back to my original point.  This wasn’t some sort of lucky guess.  This is destiny.  The Tigers and Cards have a date in the World Series and it’s an encounter that promises to divide the RSBS team.  We’ll see you there.

-A

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The Filibuster

Are the Giants better off without Melky?

Mark 
Oak Park, IL

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On August 15 the Giants were 64-54 after losing to Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals.  That same day they found out that they would be losing Cabrera for the rest of the regular season due to a 50-game ban.  Since then, the Giants won 27 games and only lost 11 on their way to clinching the division with a couple weeks left to go.  Now, there’s no doubt that Cabrera, juicing or not, can hit.  In reality, the drugs just made him better.  And it’s also pretty evident that he was on track for the NL batting title.  But when you look at the record compared to what the expectations were following news of Cabrera’s ban and one thing becomes obvious.

The Giants are a good team.

And they might be even better without Melky.

Look at the numbers.  With Melky the Giants were 10 games over .500 and doing well in the West but still not a sure thing.  Without Melky this same team is 26 games over .500 as of Friday and simply blew away the rest of the division.

What that tells me is that something changed in the collective psyche of the Giants when Melky got the boot.  The knew they could no longer depend on one guy to come up with the clutch hit and, as a result, it has been a whole bunch of guys who have had to come up with the hits and catches.  This makes them a team as opposed to a collection of players brought in as a supporting cast for the one star.

I don’t know if the Giants have the magic to make a run this year like they did in 2010.  If I had to guess, I’d probably say no since baseball is so wildly unpredictable.  But they seem to be coming together as a team more now than they did with Melky leading the charge so anything is possible.  Throw in the fact they don’t have to worry about facing Strasburg in the postseason like they did back on August 15 and it means that their chances are just a little bit better.

-A

Some Happy for Yer Friday

As we enter the beginning of the most exciting time of year (baseball playoffs and football season and an election, oh my!), I think it’s important that we keep in perspective that which brings us the most joy.  Sure, hosting a Guinness keg party while dressed in my Yadier Molina jersey flanked by the Shannon twins is pretty much the happiest day of my life (that hasn’t happened yet but might), I still know that even if all that other stuff falls through, I will always have baseball.

And sometimes, within the game of baseball, we can find something much simpler that pushes the happy button.  I know a lot of folks have been wrapped up in the admirable and impressive play of Mike Trout.  People are just as infatuated with his grace and dominance as I was am infatuated with Stephen Strasburg and all things Strasmas.  It’s the little injections of youthful awesomesauce that often remind us why we love baseball so much.  It is a kid’s game after all.

But sometimes waiting for the next big thing isn’t necessary.  I have found that out this year by following Coco Crisp very closely.  My history with Crisp has been one of hilarity, peppered with some dazzle.  And while his offensive numbers may not hypnotize scouts, enough can never be said about how he plays the game.

He plays hard.  He plays to win.  He’s in on every pitch and he goes balls-to-the-wall.  In fact, I have gotten to the point where I’m watching replays of his relay throws and conducting frame-by-frame analysis on his routes to fly balls.

If I could get to Oakland, I’d rather watch Crisp long-toss than Cesepedes take BP.

Okay, so maybe I’m lyin’ a little bit in that last sentence, but one thing is for certain: Coco Crisp’s defensive play is worth focusing on and if you focus long enough, you’re probably going to see something that puts a smile on your face.  Maybe even an afro.

Happy Friday!

Jeff

The Filibuster

Who is the man with the masterplan?

Jake 
Macomb, IL

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Good question, Jake!  And the answer isn’t as easy as one Dr. Dre would lead you to believe.

Honestly, it’s hard to just pick one person and say he’s the man with the masterplan.  And since we here at RSBS like to avoid being too categorical, I’m going to give you a list of possibilities and let you decide.

First we turn to the world of baseball.  Here, you could say it’s the Washington Nationals, the former laughingstock of the league who now find themselves with the second best record in baseball, who are the man.  Or, how about the Cincinnati Reds with the best record in baseball?  Even that would be ignoring the Pittsburgh Pirates, who, although several games behind the Reds, are still in wildcard contention.  The Pirates?!

If that’s too vague for you, we could always try to drill down a little and offer up some individuals.  You can’t spit these days without hitting some news about Mike Trout.  However, at only 20 years old, it’s a little hard to say that he’s the man with the masterplan.  The same could be said of Stephen Strasburg, although the Nationals’ plan to limit his innings this season could be seen as a masterplan…..or a master cock-up if it costs them a playoff spot or a deep playoff run.

When you say masterplan, though, that seems to be a bit more global than just Major League Baseball.  This sounds more like it requires worldwide dominance in which case we should turn our eyes toward London and the Olympic games.  The obvious choices here are the US Men’s basketball team who unfortunately seemed almost human against the Lithuanians and Michael Phelps, the Midas of swimming who has a knack for turning almost everything gold.

However, it also doesn’t hurt to look a bit further afield.  For instance, how about a man who dabbles in and dominates a field of pseudo-gymnastics.  That’s right.  Olympic men’s trampoline champion, Dong Dong.  With a name like that and  the current title-holder as World and Olympic champion, it’s hard to say he’s not the man with the masterplan.

-A

Harper’s Bazaar

Photo via Yahoo

The Washington Nationals are without a doubt one of the best stories of the year.  And, of course, you can’t talk about the Nationals without inevitably turning to the direct youth infusion that is Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.  Probably the most amazing thing about these two guys is how well they seem to be handling the pressure at their relatively young ages.

Ever since we first celebrated Stras-mas in 2010, we knew we were in for something special.  Bryce-giving has been almost as good.  Through half a season his numbers have him in a rarified group of baseball players and already have stat-heads drooling over his promise.  However, that initial part of the sentence, “through half a season,” should remind us that he’s not yet Micky Mantle.

If there’s one thing that really makes me believe that Bryce-giving could become the same annual holiday that Stras-mas appears possible to become, it’s this:

That question had foot-in-mouth disease written all over it.  But instead of pulling a Humberto Quintero:

…Harper gave just about the perfect answer.  Well played, young man.

-A

Just a Bit Inside

A few weeks ago, umpire Greg Gibson found himself on the wrong end of the following headline:

Umpire Greg Gibson Took A Stephen Strasburg Fastball To The Crotch

Which obviously begs the question, should Gibson now change his name, perhaps considering the following as an option?:

All kidding aside, umpires have a crappy job.  Pretty much the only time anyone notices you is when you blow a perfect game or get nailed in the ‘nads by a Strasburg steamer.  With the advent of the home run review system, the job got even crappier.  As radar guns and pitch monitors get ever better, it’s probably only a matter of time before people start making noise about taking that responsibility away from the umps as well.

Today, though, on the day after Memorial Day, I just want to take a minute to salute the men in blue who put life, limb and the ability to procreate out there on the line everyday.  Now, get yourself a pair of glasses, get back out there and try not to give this game away, too.

-A

The Filibuster

Is pitching so good because guys aren’t juicing anymore or are pitchers just better than they were ten years ago?

Kathrine
Downers Grove, IL

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This reminds me of when people ask if the Civil War was more about slavery or the fundamental differences between an industrial North and agrarian South.  The answer to the baseball question is pretty much the same as the answer to the Civil War question.  It’s both.

The apparent decrease in the use of PEDs in baseball has had an effect.  It’s unlikely you’re going to see many more 70+ homerun seasons in the near future.  But it’s easy to forget that it wasn’t just the hitters who were juicing during that period.  Roger Clemens taking a jab in his pale, fleshy ass was just as much a part of the era as Barry Bonds’ application of random creams and gels.  More than that, assuming that players are no longer juicing just because there hasn’t been as much of it in the news is naive at best.  It’s more likely that they have simply discovered a different, less traceable form.

Meanwhile, there’s no denying that some spectacular pitchers are playing the game these days.  Beyond the hype of guys like Strasburg, Lincecum and Verlander, even the mid-range starters have gotten better.  When the Rangers can add Neftali Feliz as their number five starter, that’s a sign there’s some scary talent out there.  The Nationals have become a force mainly through the development of guys like Strasburg, Storen and Zimmermann.  Pitchers are pitching not only better but smarter and that’s causing problems for hitters.

These things are cyclical, though.  Just because pitchers are handcuffing batters this season doesn’t mean the sluggers won’t figure out what’s going on next year.  It’s an arms race (literally and figuratively) between the two sides.  But it’s not just because of one aspect or another.  It’s the entirety of the situation.  You know, kind of like the Civil War.

-A

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Joey Devine and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Few Years

Dr. James Andrews and his ground-breaking Tommy John surgical procedure has given many years of service back to Big Leaguers who may have otherwise been forced to retire.  It has also provided many extra years of thrills for fans.  Without the surgery, we don’t have Strasburg.  We don’t have Adam Wainwright.  We don’t have A LOT of big time stars.

But, not everyone recovers as planned.

Enter, Joey Devine.

Despite the surname, his career path has been anything but.  After a promising 2008 season where he went 6-1 in 42 appearances with a STUNNING .59 ERA, dude got kissed by the angel of shoulder death and was forced to have the highly effective surgery.  Unlike most people though, two years later, he still hadn’t recovered properly; and now, in 2012, it appears Mr. Devine has to have Tommy John surgery AGAIN.

If Devine ever makes it back to the Bigs, you bet I’m gonna stand and applaud his every appearance.  For the fortitude it must take to stay focused, to battle back against such adversity, would surely require we all do so.

Unfortunately, the current situation doesn’t look good.  So I’m gonna pour out some liquor for his career.

Hang in there, Joey Devine.  If it makes you feel any better, I know a Cantonese stripper named Joy Yee Divine.  So every time I hear your name I chuckle.  To myself, of course.

Hate me ‘cuz I make it rain sometimes, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

An Evening with Yu

It may not have been Strasmas, but according to the lunar calendar (and millions of Japanese people) April 9th proved to be an equally auspicious day, no matter what, because it was the very first Major League appearance by the highly touted (and valiantly unashamed to be naked) Yu Darvish.

Like you would expect, I made an evening of it.  Here’s a play-by-play:

4:30 p.m.
Still at work.  I have looked at the clock every minute for the last thirty minutes, and will continue to do so for thirty more.  I finish up the last of my TPS reports, turn them in to my boss and shriek when he yells “WHAT THE HELL IS THIS???”

5:30 p.m.
At the gym.  Working on my… nah, who am I kidding, every time I look at a hot chick working out next to me she has Yu Darvish’s face, which I find as distracting as I do disgusting.  Going home now.

6:30 p.m.
Dinner (sushi, of course) has been eaten.  Feet are up.  Beer is in hand.  Let’s DO THIS!  *Belch*

7:05 p.m.
FSSW misses Darvish’s first pitch.  Nice work, dingleberries.  The biggest pitch of the year so far and you miss it.  They come back from commercial break and the count is already 1-0 to Chone Figgins.  AGGGHH!!!  Then Darvish quickly walks him.  Um… this is not how it’s supposed to go, guys.

7:09 p.m
After striking out Ackley on a NAAASTY breaking ball, Ichiro steps in.  Japan loses its mind.  Then Ichiro singles on a blooper to left and, already, I’m realizing Yu ain’t Strasburg (yet).

7:16 p.m.
Now Justin Smoak is on first, bases are loaded with one out for Kyle Seager.  Bases loaded?  I DIDN’T SIGN UP FOR NO BASES LOADED!!!

7:18 p.m.
Two-run gapper to right and now I’m pissed.  I could have been out on a date tonight!  With a real, live woman!  And I passed it up for this crap???!!!  WTF are YU DOING!?!?!

7:23 p.m.
Darvish makes Miguel Olivo look like Johnny Bench and I’m bored.  More Daisuke, less Nomo.  Not even close to Strasburg.  He doesn’t even have a weird hitch in his delivery like all the Japanese greats do!

7:25 p.m.
He just walked in a run.  It’s 4-0.  EFF THIS.

Seriously, I know this is a small sample size, but I ain’t impressed and I’m changing the channel… to watch Freese and Holliday and Molina (they all homer)… CHAMPIONS.

Hate me.  I understand.  Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

***

Once the game was over, it was evident he battled back and settled down.  The offense helped him out and he recovered well, and even fooled some hitters.  But the hoopla was a bit much for me for him not to deliver with jazz hands.  Or maybe I’ve just been spoiled by so much great pitching the last couple years that I expect greatness every game.  Either way, I’ll check in again next time.  I just ain’t makin’ a night of it.

The Filibuster

Is the hype to be believed?  Could the Nationals actually contend this year?

Sawyer
Ballston, VA
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Sexy superlatives and arduous absolutes, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome your 2012 Washington Nationals!

Could they actually contend?  Hmm… does watching a pitcher’s duel strike me with uncontainable bonerjamz?  HELL to the YES, my friend!  There are 159 games left in the season, and the Nats could win ‘em all!

Or not.  Still, this is not your embarrassing Expo leftover Natinal squad of old; rather, this is a team with bona fide pitching, timely bats and a revered sage at the helm!  Do you think Davey Johnson thinks they can contend?  I’d bet my 1986 eight-ball wrapper collection he does.

And why not?  Without Howard and Utley for a good stretch, the Phillies find themselves offensively challenged.  The Braves, still salty from their epic fail of 2011, certainly don’t have all the answers.  I’m not convinced the Marlins are really any better than they were before they decided to blind us with ugly and the Mets are the Mets (though don’t sleep on them either, as a .500 season is not entirely out of the question).

The truth is, the NL East isn’t as predictable as it used to be.  And the addition of another wild card team makes it possible to hope a little longer.

But the number one reason why the Natinals have a legitimate shot at competing for a playoff spot this year is… The ONE.

Okay, wrong ONE.  But believe me, to Stephen Strasburg, there is no spoon.  Also taking the red pill this year are Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson, Ross Detwiler and (presumably) John Lannan.  That’s one helluva starting rotation+.

When Bryce Harper eventually finds his way into the rabbit hole, there will be even MORE reason to respect the potential of the Washington Nationals (not to mention a tomfoolery fodder spike for Deadspin).

Would I put big money on the Nats now?  Maybe not.  Would I put money on them to be a cellar dweller?  Absolutely not.  This team could find its identity and they could do it as soon as now.  They could be the ’11 D’backs or the ’08 Rays.

Better yet, they could be the 2012 Nationals. (see what I did there?)

Hate me ‘cuz I love Stephen Strasburg as if he were one of my own, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

Have a topic you want to see us Filibuster? Send us your Filibuster questions by emailing RSBSblog@gmail.com or by commenting below.

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