So not a whole lot has changed since we last checked in. The Yankees and Rays are neck and neck. The Reds, Rangers, Twins, Yankees and Rays are all still virtual locks for October. The Phillies are getting hot, the Braves are not, and the West is still wild. Awesome, now what do we talk about? I could just copy and paste most of last week’s article for you to read. Yeah, I didn’t think you wanted to do that either. So while we will definitely revisit the wild west, I figured now is an ok time to just talk about something else.
I am not sure if this could have been less of a big deal. To fans who only follow football or basketball or something other than baseball, I need to explain something. In baseball, you do whatever you can, without outside help (i.e. steroids, cameras, walkie talkies, etc) to get an advantage. If you are on second and you can steal the catcher’s signs and successfully relay them to the hitter, then good for you. As a catcher, if you can frame a pitch to make it look like a strike, you had better do it or you are not doing all you can. If the catcher is going to frame an outside pitch to make it look like a strike, you can be damned sure that batters have every right to lean into inside pitches to get to first, or to even say it hit them. If you can sell it, and for a HBP there has to be some change of direction of the ball and some noise from getting hit, then you do it. No questions asked. Not a big deal in the least. Now, if A-Rod had done it, he would have been ripped to shreds by the media, fans, and just about everyone else. Jeter is the golden boy, and they rightfully let him off the hook. He had no business being on the hook in the first place when he really just made a savvy play.
Just watch this video and understand that he is doing nothing wrong. He is being resourceful and is not getting any help to steal the signs. He is just helping out and it ultimately helped his team score a run.
http://www.iviewtube.com/v/90219/joe-mauer-stealing-signs-from-catcher – for whatever reason, WordPress does not let me put this in as a video, so just click it.
To quote from the description of the video: Watch MVP and Batting Champion Joe Mauer Stealing Signs from the catcher after hitting a double and then tipping off teamate Jason Kubel. Mauer tips Kubel by tugging his ear hole for curve ball and touching his face for fast ball.
Now here is how you know I am serious about this. I am about to say something that should really almost never be said, and is almost taboo to say. Take AJ Pierzynski as a good example
Wait, I am still here right? God didn’t striker me down? Are you sure? How sure? Ok.
I mean I hate him too. Easily my least favorite White Sox player, and has always been one of my least favorite guys. Consider him the Jay Cutler or Philip Rivers of baseball. There is just something about him that makes him easy to hate. BUT he understands that you take the advantages you can get. Sure, his hysterics make me want to castrate him and his smugness make me wish we could frame him for fixing games like the Black Sox of old, but he gets it. If he was on my team, I would admire his commitment to winning and getting every advantage possible, even though I would probably scoff at some of his hysterics. This is the only area in which anyone should look up to AJ Pierzynski, but an area nonetheless.
The NL West
The Padres avoided Armageddon when they went into Colorado and won that series, but with how the Rockies are playing, it may have just been temporary. I mean, hell., are we sure Troy Tulowitzki’s middle name isn’t Armageddon? He could not be playing much better lately, and the same goes for Carlos Gonzalez. The rest of the guys are doing their jobs when needed (even Jason Giambi), and letting Tulo and CarGo go absolutely bananas on the rest of the league. It is clearly working, but the Rockies still find themselves in 3rd entering the homestretch and do have some work to do. Their schedule is fairly inviting with 6 left against the sliding Dodgers (3 at home), 4 with the fading Cardinals, 3 with lowly Arizona, and a key weekend series with the Giants in Colorado. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty inviting to me if I am a Rockies fan.
The Giants also have a pretty manageable schedule, but it could be much kinder. They also have 3 with Arizona, and the aforementioned weekend series with the Rockies, but have series with the Brewers and Cubs before that. The big catch is the 3 game series with the Padres to close the season. Who thought that series would be to determine the West at the start of the year? That could be much worse, but I do not like the Giants chances looking forward. I really have not given the Giants much credit all year, so I’m sorry, San Francisco.
The Padres probably have it worst with 3 in St. Louis, 3 in LA, 3 vs. Cincinnati, 4 vs. the Cubs, and that 3 game series with the Giants. Not so kind. I hate to say it, but I have the Padres out of the playoffs completely after a really strong season from a team that was on the verge of losing its best player.
I got the Rockies to win the division, but the real intrigue comes with the Padres taking 2 of 3 from the Giants in San Francisco to sink the Giants chances and just barely miss the Playoffs themselves.
The Braves schedule sets up fairly well despite the fact that they have 6 more against the red-hot Phillies. I only have them winning 3 of those at most, and all those games give them a chance to win the division. I do not think they will do it, but I think they can come away with a Wild Card spot. 3 @ NYM, 3 @ PHI, 3 @ WSH, 3 vs. FLA, 3 vs. PHI. I can see them winning 10 of those 15, even though I would not be surprised to see them drop all 3 in Philly and one in Washington. However, even if all those go wrong, that still leaves the Braves on 8 wins by my count, which would leave them one game clear of the Giants and Padres, both of whom I have at 90-72. Those 6 straight at home at the end are huge for Atlanta as they play drastically better at home (52-23) than they do on the road (31-41). I could definitely see the Braves collapsing on the upcoming 9 game roadtrip, but I think some outstanding pitching will keep them in enough games to finish out the season strong and make it to the playoffs.
Did you know the Twins are .5 GB of the Rays for the best record in Major League Baseball? I know. They have been on a mission since the All-Star break going something like 42-16 and taking no prisoners (especially ones with white socks). This could definitely throw a monkey wrench into the playoff picture as we had been assuming home field advantage for the winner of the AL East. I still think they are 3rd best in the AL, but their run has been pretty damn impressive. Hats off to Ron Gardenhire, the Magical Walrus.
Oh, and I still have the Yankees winning the division, though it should not really matter either way.
I seem to go over this every week, but just for posterity’s sake, here are my playoff picks.
Yankees over Rangers in 3, Rays over Twins in 4
Phillies over Reds in 4, Rockies over Braves in 5
Yankees over Rays in 7 (assuming the Yankees win the division and get Game 7 at home)
Phillies over Rockies in 6
Phillies over Yankees in 7. Like I have said from Day One.
That is all for this week, but we will be back for more next Friday with plenty to talk about as Magic Numbers start to get lower.