Ah—the Dog Days of Summer . . . while this is usually the time when parents and children count the days until itâs schoolâs back in sessionâwe baseball fans do some counting of our own—how many games up, back or out are our favorite teams from playing October baseball.
From opening day and beyond, this baseball season has seen many division rivals compete head to head for 1st and now that itâs coming down to the home stretch, expect these teams to show off with electrifying performances that will inevitably go down to the wire.
The National League Central division has experienced close and competitive races all season. While the Milwaukee Brewers and the St. Louis Cardinals are battling it out for division domination, it looks like the Pittsburgh Pirates have felt the bite of summer. Though they were previously on a tear, the Buccos have succumbed to summerâs sultry heat dropping their last 10 games in the L column and it looks like they are going to miss the playoffs for a record 19th straight year.
In American League news, itâs business as usual as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox battle it out to see who gets the division crown and who gets the wild card spot. The AL West has the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vying for a division title against the defending American League champs–the Texas Rangers. Although the Cleveland Indians are battling the Detroit Tigers for AL Central bragging rights, donât count out the Minnesota Twins just yetâthey are usually good for a late season surge in this mediocre division.
Itâs been months since Iâve had a chance to write for the blog, and Iâm happy to announce that weâre putting the band back together for a limited release Sold Out Tour. Sold Out probably isnât the right analogyâŚletâs say By Invitation Only. So congratulations, valued reader, if you can see this, youâre seat is being held.
After my transition to the purchasing team, Iâve been spending most of my hours at the office practicing my multiplication tables again. Iâm now openly searching for a math-only assistant so if anyone knows an out-of-work 4th grader looking to get a foot in the door, give me a ring.
Over the next few weeks leading up to the baseball season, weâll be executing our three man weave to bring you previews for all 30 teams.
Well, I understand the NFL is still Homecoming King of this high school, but before we know it football will pass and the nerdy A/V kid (baseball) will get his moment in the spotlightâŚfor seven glorious months.
Personally, as of this morning, my Jets are still alive in the NFL playoff picture. Although, like the most popular man from LaGuardia to Newark, I too thought Gang Green had been eliminated mere weeks ago with their 7th loss of the season. Silly Rex.
Brent has his Vikings going full Favre ahead right now too, so for the time being, weâre both primarily concerned with football, much like the rest of you out there.
Ariel on the other handâŚWell…Ariel didnât have himself a very good weekend.
As with any division of people and goods, we held a draft last week to determine who would cover each team. With the first pick in the 2010 Baseball Preview Blog Draft, Brent selected his hometown Twins. I chose the back to back NL Pennant winning Philadelphia Phillies and Ariel was able grab his Cubbies with the 3rd (read: Last) pick.
While his Cowboys and Cubs aren’t looking so good, Ariel’s future in showbiz is as bright as ever. Check him out HERE.
So weâll just slowly dive into it with some of the less attractive teams out there. Sorry Nationals, Padres and Diamondbacks, but someone has to be picked last.
Hopefully this will take some of the sting away from a long cold February that doesnât offer much in the way of sports entertainment. Enjoy the previews as we push right through to Spring Training.
Below is a special contribution from a member of the FansEdge team, Daniel Bressler, and without further ado:
My second contribution to the FansEdge Blog is overdue, but Iâm happy to be back! Great timing on my partâŚtwo big names in baseball made headlines in less than 48 hours.
Randy Johnson retires
On January 5, 2010, legendary pitcher Randy Johnson announced his retirement form baseball. The âBig Unitâ left baseball on his terms â as a 46-year-old with 303 wins and 4,875 strikeouts, second in MLB history behind Nolan Ryan. Only Roger Clemens boasts more Cy Young awards than Johnson. Having spent most of his career with the Seattle Mariners and the Arizona Diamondbacks, he features a blazing fastball with a vicious slider. Standing 6â10, he was an intimidating force on the mound. In a league dominated by right-handed hitters and lefty switch-hitters, he is considered one of the greatest southpaw pitchers ever.
And who can forget his moustache and mullet? Johnson played with the Montreal Expos, Mariners, Houston Astros, Diamondbacks and New York Yankees before ending his career with the San Francisco Giants in 2009. Fans also remember Johnsonâs ineptitude at the plate. He may have dominated the mound, but he was a wimp in the batterâs box, struggling to maintain his career .125 batting average, and striking out in nearly half of his plate appearances. Lanky and awkward, his batting stance resulted in easy strikeouts and laughs from the opposition. But those smiles quickly turned to frowns in the next half-inning. Johnson held opponents to a .221 avg. â eighth all-time. For years, fans learned the devastating effects Johnsonâs 97 mph fastball on his opponents. But in 2001, the public found out what it could do to a living animal. It was a routine pitch that never reached the plate â intercepted by a bird, instead. The pitch knocked the feathers â and the life â from the bird. R.I.P. dove, we hardly knew ya. There is no doubt Johnson will make baseballâs Hall of Fame â weâll just have to wait 5 years. The clock is now ticking.
Andre Dawson is enshrined in the Hall of Fame
Finally, we can stop hitting the snooze button for Andre Dawson. On January 6, 2010 â on his ninth try â Dawson was voted into the Hall of Fame. Dawson â receiving over 77% of the vote (75% is required) â will be the lone player inducted, while Bert Blyleven, Barry Larkin, Roberto Alomar, and others must wait.
Known as a hard worker, Dawson covered center and right field and spent most of his career with the Montreal Expos and Chicago Cubs. He is one of three MLB players to have hit 400 home runs and stolen 300 bases in a career â joining Willie Mays and Barry Bonds. He was named National League Most Valuable Player in 1987 when he hit 49 home runs and 137 RBIs.
Boasting eight All-Star appearances, eight Gold Gloves, four Silver Sluggers and being named the 1977 Rookie of the Year and 1987 MVP, Dawson quietly became one of the most decorated baseball players. His hits and RBI totals approach or exceed many Hall of Fame hitters, including Mike Schmidt, Reggie Jackson, and Cal Ripken, Jr. Dawson, having never reached a World Series, never had his Kirk Gibson moment, but enjoyed a fantastic career.
If anyone ever questioned his love for the game, Dawson quickly settled that discussion in 1987. Despite setting franchise records with the Expos, Dawson dreamed of playing for the Cubs. So much so, that he signed a blank contract and allowed the Cubs to fill in the amount â resulting in a drastic pay cut.
Dawson also played for the Boston Red Sox and Florida Marlins. He stayed in Miami, as a member of the front office, and received his first World Series in 2003, which included an epic 7-game NLCS â against the Cubs.
Congratulations to Andre Dawson for being inducted into the Hall of Fame and to Randy Johnson for retiring after two dominating decades!
In related news, Dawson has announced that he signed with Dreams, Inc. (the parent company of FansEdge) to handle the selling of all future memorabilia and merchandise. In addition, FansEdge will operate his official website. Look for more memorabilia from Dawson on FansEdge and our sister site, Pro Sports Memorabilia, in the upcoming months!
Here’s another post from newly minted writer Brent. His sports knowledge is vastly impressive and to be frank, a little worrisome. Below you’ll find a reference to Bo Jackson, someone named Charlie something and a Techmo Super Bowl video among other items. It’s quite the creation. We’ll try to get both new guys set up with accounts this week and cut out this bloviating middleman…
My fellow copywriter Ariel is giving you a taste of what youâll see in the playoffs this fall, but there is a lot you wonât see again until Spring Training.
I love Spring Training. I love that it gives every team a brand new start so they can suck and fall well short of expectations (New York Mets, Chicago Cubs), be awesome (Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees), or just experience more fledgling mediocrity (Milwaukee Brewers, Toronto Blue Jays). But for me, it doesnât get much better than post-season baseball. Iâm a Minnesota Twins fan and while the Twins havenât had much success in October in the last decade, they have at least been in the playoffs in four of the last seven seasons, including a Game 163 in 2008 that they lost to the Chicago White Sox. John Danks shut the Twins out in that game but could not deliver the same result in his regular season finale this year against the Detroit Tigers when he walked three in the first inning, including one with the bases loaded. Now the Twins and Tigers will square off in Game 163. 2009 is the third season in a row to require a 163rd game. Two years ago the Colorado Rockies beat the San Diego Padres 9-8 in 13 innings.
But there are guys who had phenomenal seasons who wonât see stadium lights after October 4th. Zack Greinke led the majors in ERA at 2.16, led the AL in WHIP at 1.07 and finished 3rd in strikeouts in all of baseball. And he won 16 games on a team that won 65 all season.
Albert Pujols got all the press this year in the NL, but what about Prince Fielder’smonster season? Prince set a Brewer record for RBIâs at 141, he hit 46 home runs, behind only 47 by Albert Pujols, and he hit .299 with an on-base percentage of .412.
Roy Halladayâs reputation speaks for itself and because Toronto couldnât get a deadline deal worked out (other than sending Alex Rios to the Chicago White Sox), he too will miss the playoffs, just as he has in every season of his career. The Toronto Blue Jays havenât seen the post-season since they won back-to-back World Series Championships in 1992 and 1993. Remember Joe Carter jumping around first base? That team also had Minnesota natives Paul Molitor, Jack Morris, and former Minnesota Golden Gopher basketball stand out Dave Winfield (yes, basketball, he was also drafted by the Minnesota Vikings without ever having played a down of football in his life) on the roster.
Fernandez went from the Pads to the Mets in 1992 in a deal involving former outfielder/running back D.J. Dozier and then the Mets traded Fernandez back to the Blue Jays in June of 1993. The Padres received McGriff, Dozier, and Wally Whitehurst in exchange for a World SeriesâŚ (more or less, Iâm blowing it out of proportion. But I canât help but be reminded of when the Vikings traded for now MMA fighter Herschel Walker and gave the Cowboys a dynasty. I think Hershal Walker also tried out to be an Olympic bobsledder at some point, too. He dabbles.).
Our old friend Charlie Leibrandt from a few paragraphs ago played with a couple of two-sport athletes. He was a teammate of Bo Jackson on the Royals, who of course was an Oakland Raider and legendary Tecmo Super Bowl player.
Besides getting ready to vacation in warm climates, what else do these guys have in common with Greinke, Fielder, and Halladay? In the next few years, theyâll each probably receive ginormous contract offers from teams you will see in the playoffs this year: Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, and The Los Angeles, California Angels of Aneheim, USA. Or other big market teams, like the New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, and Chicago White Sox.
Small market teams find it difficult to hold on to their best young talent, even through the playersâ arbitration years, after all, Ryan Howard was awarded $10 million in arbitration after striking out 199 times. I wonder what Mark Reynolds of the Arizona Diamondbacks will get after striking out over 400 times over the last two seasons?
There are pitfalls to rooting for both small market and big market teams, however. Small market teams, like my Twins, have to wave good-bye to guys like Johan Santana and Torii Hunter because they cannot afford to keep them. The Tampa Bay Rays will find out the same thing when they try to hold on to Carl Crawford and others. The Florida Marlins know this reality well and will face it again when it comes time to pay Josh Johnson, Dan Uggla, and Ramirez.
Big market teams throw money at players like they are Pacman Jones making it rain. But that comes with great risk sometimes, too. San Francisco gave Barry Zito $126 million over seven years and they got a #3 starter at best. The Cubs are locked in to Alfonso Soriano for more than any club would like to be. Mike Hampton signed a monster deal once upon a time and then spent much of that time on the DL. The same can be said about Carl Pavano, Kevin Brown, Jason Schmidt and others.
Things you should know that have happened sort of under-the-radar and may be of help to you in future fantasy drafts or baseball nerd conversations:
Jair Jurrjens had a 2.61 ERA for the Braves this year, good for 6th best in baseball.
The New York Mets hit 95 homers as a team, last in the league and 149 behind the league leading New York Yankess. The Mets could combine home run totals with seven other teams and still have fewer than the Yankees did. Handfuls of players could combine their home run totals to have the greater than sign in their favor when compared with the Mets.
Fielder, Braun, and Mike Cameron > 2009 Mets.
Mauer, Morneau, and Michael Cuddyer > 2009 Mets.
The second baseman of the AL East* > 2009 Mets.
Pujols, Fielder, and Carlos Zambrano > 2009 Mets.