Kris Liakos: March 2010 Archives

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, I'm committed to building a just, verdant and more peaceful blog.

Goodnight, Pa. We'll have more ish for you tomorrow. Same WoW Channel.

(Photo of DTFT and Giant Griffey Poster stolen from Geoff Baker, obviously.)

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, Thermos just is a brand name for a vacuum flask.

Guuuhhhhh is this week ever gonna ennnnnnnd???? HURRY UP BASEBALL. Same WoW channel.

("A Crosstown Classic" trailer, and all its lovable jamooks, stolen from the indefatigable Can't Stop The Bleeding. )

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, play dead and it'll pass right by you.

The number to call in tonight is (347) 843-4807. So join me as people draft imaginary teams and I make fun of them from my house in Boston. Which is ten times more sad.

See you tomorrow, same WoW channel. You too, Arthur Russell.

That's Why They Play The Games: 2010 AL East

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Time for the last AL preview. Rob's got one more coming for the NL East, then it's time to take it to the field. Here are the ones we've already done. His are much better than mine.


Eat it, objectivity. You know why we save this one for last in the AL every year? It's the Grandaddy Of Them All. The AL East has baseball's two most successful franchises (The You Know Whos and The What's Their Names) and one could make the argument that the three best teams in the league all reside here (throw in Tampa). Not only does the division have more than a handful of marquee starting pitchers, but either the Red Sox or Yankees have led the AL in scoring for 6 of the last 7 years. Don't have 95 wins? Get lost. I will now ascend the steps of the golden temple to suss out a Chosen One.
5. Toronto Blue Jays

The Goodish:

  • Shaun Marcum missed the entirety of 2009 after having Tommy John surgery, but I sure loved his stuff before he got hurt. He's looking strong enough for Clarence to have named him the Opening Day starter. Dustin McGowan was also looking like he was getting ready to pitch his first innings since '08 but just hit a snag. Ricky Romero had a decent 2009 and if he can improve on that K/BB ratio he could be the best second year starter in the league.

  • Adam Lind and Aaron Hill combined for 71 HR last year. That's a ton. They'll remain the heart of the order (with a possible sprinkling of Travis Snider). They also combined for 208 Ks to 100 BBs. That's kinda bad.

The Bad:

  • They lost some guy named Halladay. After Marcum and Romero, the rotation has Brandon Morrow and Marc Rzepczynski, neither of whom have ever pitched more than 70 innings in a season and The Immortal Brian Tallet.

  • Lots of at bats from Edwin Encarnation, Jose Bautista and Alex Gonzalez. Also, Jays fans have to pray for a continuation of the Every Other Year Vernon Wells Is Good thing.

Predictions: 67-95 record, John Buck inherits Rod Barajas' Waverunner and rides it out to the middle of Lake Ontario where he strips down naked to "help free Mumia." The world learns that all Toronto catchers are given Waverunners, but it may not be a good idea for the voluble and viruently leftist Buck.

4. Baltimore Orioles

The Good:

  • How about that outfield? Nick Markakis is the defacto leader on offense, and while he Felix Pie is waiting for playing time. Solid.

  • Kevin Millwood was brought in, and as much fun as we like to have around here with The Kev, he had a pretty good 2010 and pitches a lot of innings. That'll be no small help to a rotation that has seen approximately 81 promising young arms flame out in the past decade.

  • Brad Bergesen and Brian Matusz are two rooks in rotation that everyone seems high on. Matusz, especially, has been dazzling 'em this Spring.
  • Matt Walters? Walker? Fetters? Something like that. Anyway I guess their catcher is supposed to be good.

The Bad:

  • The good things on this team are all real young. Markakis, Millwood, Jones (kinda), Brian Roberts and Miguel Tejada are the only dudes with substantial MLB experience. There are lots of growing pains to be worked out on the field for everyone else.

  • Their bullpen will probably suck again.

Predictions: 75-87 record, Following a disastrous stint in Colorado, Melvin Mora retires and returns to Camden Yards opening up an eel on a stick stand next to Boog's BBQ called "More Of Mora's Impaled Morays." It is even more disastrous than his stint in Colorado.

3. Tampa Bay Devil Rays

The Good:

  • Longoria-Crawford-Pena-Zobrist can hold it's own against almost any other lineup 4some in the game from a bat standpoint. Bringing in Kelly Shoppach to split time or possibly replace the offensively abysmal Dioner Navarro also looks like a good move. Even Jason Bartlett had pop in 2009.

  • James Shields has been a rock in the rotation for a few seasons now, and 2010 looks like the year that Matt Garza will emerge as an ace if he doesn't have a brain aneurysm first. Jeff Niemann is looking ot build on a career year and year two of David Price Takes The Majors should also be an improvement on the first.

  • The bullpen is very good on paper, as illustrated with colors and numbers by these guys. But there are localized rumblings that JP Howell's recent arm troubles could send the whole thing crashing down.

  • Their defense continues to be one of the best in baseball.

The Bad:

  • With the Rays counting on him for power, Pat Burrell had a lousy year in 2009. But it was his first year in the AL and this is also a contract year. If he was younger you could see it going either way, but as it is he could be toast.

  • If BJ Upton keeps regressing at the plate he may just disappear.

  • Joe Maddon is wicked annoying.

Predictions: 85-77 record, With no production from the DH troika of Burrell, Gabe Kapler and Hank Blalock the Rays sign Dean Palmer, who is promptly suspended for steroids.


2. Boston Red Sox

The Good:

  • There are several teams making the claim, but The Red Sox probably have the best top to bottom starting rotation in baseball, despite the uncertainty with Daisuke Matsuzaka. Especially if they Do The Right Thing and just make Clay Buchholz the fifth starter when Dice-K returns. Enough with the 6 man rotation talk.

  • Rad Theo had a fine offseason. The Red Sox act like money is a factor when it really isn't. They lost the ability to play that card when they signed a third starter for $90M, just like the Yankees. So with that in mind, the Lackey signing was a good one. After getting by over the past couple years with near death cameos from John Smoltz, Paul Byrd and Brad Penny, Lackey takes that out of the equation.

  • Acquisitions at position player have both offensive and defensive components. Defensively, Mike Cameron is an upgrade in center over Jacoby Ellsbury, Ellsbury is an upgrade over Jason Bay in Left, and Adrian Beltre is an upgrade over the modern day injury plagued Mike Lowell. Marco Scutaro isn't an upgrade over Alex Gonzalez at short, but he's a fine fielder in his own right.

  • Losing Bay's offense can be recouped with a full season from Victor Martinez, and Scutaro coming close to his '09 numbers in lieu of the Lowrie/Lugo/Gonzalez SSThing. Cameron himself has had 20+ HR each of the last 4 seasons.

  • Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia are as close to healthy sure things as the Red Sox have seen since I've been a baseball fan and JD Drew went to Florida State.

The Bad:

  • David Ortiz still holds a key role in this lineup and there is no indication he'll return to his glory days. It's more about him finding the median between his years as an MVP candidate and the futile fanning that plagued him for the entire first half of last year. If Mike Lowell wasn't occupying this strange land where he plays for the Red Sox but no one acts like it, he could be a viable backup at DH. But itseems a foregone he's gone. And he's hurt again. This leaves Jeremy Hermida as the biggest bat off the bench.

  • Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon are solid for the 8th and 9th inning. Ramon Ramirez is also a good one inning reliever. It's getting to those guysin long relief that will prove to be the problem for the bullpen. Manny Delcarmen is inconsistent. Hideki Okajima regressed in 2009. The other spots in the pen will belong to some combination of Boof Bonser, Scott Atchison, Joe Nelson and Brian Shouse. Unless Dice-K comes back and someone has to move. Uncertainty.

Predictions:96-66 record, Jason Varitek takes up knitting while on the bench and makes a wool tarp for rain delays.

1. New York Yankees

The Good:

  • Well, when you win the World Series you have to really try to get significantly worse the next season. Like the Marlins. But the Yankees didn't do that. They added Javy Vasquez to the rotation. Guys they lost, like Damon and Matsui, may significantly improve their new lineups but they don't take much away from the one in the Bronx. Especially when you add Curtis Granderson.

  • Mariano Rivera remains the best closer in baseball. Their whole bullpen had a good 2009 and will be even better if Phil Hughes cuts it as a starter allowing Joba Chamberlain to have a designated role in the bullpen, where he's proven most effective.

The Bad:

  • The Vasquez signing did a lot to calm people who still don't see AJ Burnett as a near-ace and saw a huge dropoff in the rotation after Sabathia. But Vasquez has been in New York before and had one of his worst seasons in the majors. Add that to the fact that even with last season's renaissance in Atlanta he's been inconsistent at best over the past 5 or 6 years. What if he underperforms again? What if Burnett underperforms? What if Hughes struggles and that 5th spot stays unstable all year? Do you see how many hypotheticals I had to come with for something to put in "The Bad"?

Predictions: 97-65 record, Robinson Cano changes his name, and will only answer to, Dookie "Blood Spitting Crocodile Messiah" Crocodilemessiah-Thompson.

Weekend Questions

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Hey kids, you can have anybody you want.

  • DO you agree with the Braves' decision to start Jason Heyward on Opening Day thus start the clock ticking on his arb clock? I can see both sides, but it's nice to think that maybe the NL East will be so competitive that the first month of the season may actually turn out meaning something.

  • HOW much air gets let out of the Mariners' excitement baloon after the news that Cliff Lee is being shut down for a week and may begin the season on the DL?

  • WHAT team will Derek Jeter buy after he retires? Not even the Yankees pay you enough money to buy the Yankees.

  • DOES the fact that realignment is being discussed in union meetings mean that this has a chance to be a real, actual, living thing?

  • WHAT will make for better viewing: repeatedly watching that Baseball Samurai video up there or going to check out Greenberg that movie by that guy that we talked about on that podcast?

  • HAVE you read the latest heartwarming installment of the Pitchers & Poets guy coaching his little league team? Adorablog.

Welp, it's the final weekend of Spring Training. Lots of good college basketball on TV and great shows wherever your local live music hall may be, so go and enjoy yourself. Cause next weekend baseball is back. And it's gonna want your full attention for awhile. Same WoWza Woo Woo.

What's Up, Creampuff: Dudes That Were/Got Hurt Pt. 1

stretcher.JPG Oh, lord. These dudes better get better in a double hurry.


Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, les temps changent.

That is all for today. See you tomorrow with your Friday favorites, including the triumphant return of Creampuff. Same WoW channel. I love you, Elvis.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, got a bottle of tokay.

  • HOW will eliminating the day off between Games 4 and 5 of the LCS affect the playoffs? Dunno, but it's also taking away a day off from beer to drink water. That is going to affect my headache.

  • DO you like baseball movies and/or dreamy Hollywood dreamboats? Then here's a double dose of good news: Owen Wilson plays a baseball player in a new James L. Brooks film and Jake Gyllenhall and Jim Carrey are gonna be in Damn Yankees film remake. I got callbacks for both films but thought they were below me.

  • WHAT is your favorite thing about Spring? Some would say the weather, some would say the vegetation, some would say girls wearing sundresses, others would say Jay Mariotti and Ozzie Guillen bickering like two drunk grammas. I don't wanna know those people.

  • DON'T you wish more ballplayers were as honest as the Rangers' Tommy Hunter about the sleepy little burghs they inhabit during Spring. Something tells me he aint being named to the Surprise, AZ Chamber of Commerce anytime soon.

  • DID you remember to vote for Seattle Mariner Kanekoa Texeira's new nickname? Of course you did.

  • YOU know what that picture (made by DMac) up there means don't you? The Walkoff Walk Furious Five Radio Show is about to storm back into your life after disappearing for months and just expects everything to be fine and dandy. Are you gonna let it just walk all over you like that? Well if so, you can listen live TONIGHT AT 730 or download for all of eternity by going here. It's me and Drew and DMac talking baseball (and a little bit of film) and we'd just love for you to tune in.

So I'm gonna go gargle with some turpentine to warm up the old v chords for that. We'll see you back here on the textual side of things tomorrow. Same WoW channel.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, mad road driving.

  • ARE they gonna make another Bad News Bears movie? If so, I think they should definitely "rip this from the headlines" and make the team a bunch of crimefighting pervert narcs.

  • DO you know a blog more in tune with the habits and cliches of sportswriting than Walkoff Walk? I certainly don't. This piece on Joe Mauer sounds like it was written just to prove Drew's point from yesterday.

  • WOULD it even be Spring if Albert Pujols didn't have some painful injury to overcome on his way to another MVP award?

  • IS it wrong to weigh packs of baseball cards before buying them in the hopes of getting a fancy subset card? No real opinion on that, but the dude in that picture is about 30, so he's got deeper seated issues.

  • YOU think Manny Acta's laid back Spicoli approach is what the Indians need to compete this year? Me, neither.

  • WHY am I so obsessed with trashing the Indians this year?

  • WHAT Kevin Youkilis facial hair style will YOU vote forM? No Charlie Chaplin? How come no one ever wears that anymore, I think it's fetching.

Fin. See you tomorrow. Same WoW channel.

Catching Up With Your Catchers Of The Future

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dead kid.jpg

Back in December, Drew wrote a stellar piece about the boom and bust that is so prevalent in the catcher market. Whether it's the physical grind or just the extra spotlight on the game's most unique position, it's hard to disagree with his thesis that there are few things in baseball more hyperbolic and mercurial than breathless talk about a young backstop.

Who cares. Let's take a quick peek at a handful of past and present COTFs, both well known (and not that young anymore) and emerging, and their current status in camp.

  • Jesus Montero and Austin Romine, Yankees: Montero is the one with the flashy bat and most of the press coverage but at least one reporter says that Romine is "light years ahead" of Montero behind the plate. Both were just sent down to AAA, but if one gets called up during the season the smart money would be on Montero, the guy with the chance to make the most immediate offensive impact.

  • JR Towles and Jason Castro, Astros: Towles is on the other side of COTF hype. A couple seasons ago he was all hype and potential but hasn't done a whole heck of anything with the big club. Castro is the team's #1 pick from 2008 and most highly regarded offensive prospect. But at the moment, Towles is having the bigger spring and that combined with his relative seniority look to give him the edge for the #1 spot on the depth chart.

  • Adam Moore, Mariners: While starter Rob Johnson has been recovering from hip surgery, Moore has been getting plenty of innings behind the dish and AB's next to it. And Don Wakamatsu seems happy as a clam about the whole development, saying he has a chance to be "a real special player" and pitchers Ian Snell and Cliff Lee have also heaped praise on him. Fine, but whatever you do just don't call him Jeff Clement.

  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden, Rangers: OH MY GOD HOW LONG ARE THEY GONNA DO THIS??

  • Josh Thole, Mets: Thole had a fine season in the minors last year, had a cup of coffee at the end of the season and was optioned to AAA last week. With the motley crew of catchers the Mets currently employ, another strong start down on the farm could bring him back up again. Expect swoony love columns to follow. Not even the immortal Omir Santos is safe from COTF hype.

  • Florida State Seminole Buster Posey, Giants: Conventional wisdom at the beginning of camp had FSSBP starting the year in the minors no matter how well he did, just to delay his arbitration eligibilty. But is Bruce Bochy throwing a wrench in that line of thunkin' by giving Posey reps at first? LET HIM PLAY DUDE, YOU HAVE NO OFFENSE.

  • Wilson Ramos, Twins: Wait, the Twins have a COTF? The same Twins that just signed their catcher to an extension so well publicized that it probably slept with Tiger Woods during the health care vote? Apparently so. Our boy La Velle Neal says the team is enamored with this guy both for his catching skill and the pop in his bat. Gardy calls him "a package deal" and Gardy knows package (stores). So who knows, if Ramos gets the backup spot and sees some time every now and then spelling the not-always-healthy Mauer, he could make a name for himself. After all, isn't one of the dreams for a COTF to become Trade Bait OTF or better yet, Overpaid In Relation To Actual Experience Free Agent OTF?

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, we're strong now.

Today is finished here. Tomorrow is but a small percolating idea in the minds of The Unfreakable Bloggists of Walkoff Walk Inc.™ Tonight is the WoW fantasy league draft. You kids have a good time in there. Email me the best jokes :(

See you later, same WoW channel. You too, weird kid who made that video called "Baseball Fights" that mostly just has still photos of people hitting each other from other sports. False advertising, Brobro.

Weekend Questions

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scullydrive.jpg Hey kids, flip yr lids Okay, that's it for this week. We're ramping up. Can you feel it? More importantly, can you dig it? Bye now. Same WoW channel.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, napping is not a valid excuse.

So uh, Happy St. Patrick's Day I guess. This is one of those holidays I stopped celebrating after college. Like Cinco De Mayo. But by all means, you go live it up. See you tomorrow, precious. Same WoW channel.


Tonight's Questions

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flamingobaby.jpg Hey kids, not it.

Finally a quick belated congrats to FoWoW and occasional contributor Brian MacPherson on his new gig as the Red Sox writer for the Providence Journal. Dude is incisive and forward thinking with his numbers. Great move for the Projo. That's it for us today, we'll see you tomorrow. You too, Flamingo Baby.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, your brain is a sponge and the internet is filthy dishwater.

Man, the season is approaching quickly. We better kick this thing into gear. Thanks for sticking with us through This Sleepy Winter Of Our Discontent. Shouts to our hilaripals over at 12 Angry Mascots for the Fernando Perez video. See you all tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.

That's Why They Play The Games: 2010 AL Central

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Oscar season is officially over, which it means it's finally time for us to turn our gaze towards the Walkoff Walk annual divisional previews. Do yourself a favor and look back at 2008 and 2009's versions for a chance to wander down the hallways of silly predictions and hack jokemaking.

Previously, Rob checked out the exciting National League West. Today, we flip back to the AL to run down the flyover states where people eat a lot of potatoes.

Even if you were in a coma for the whole 2009 season, (I'm looking at you, BJ Upton) last year's AL Central standings has an anomaly that's impossible to overlook. The Twins and Tigers played 163 games. And that only happened after the Tigers blew a 7 game lead in the final month of the season. The champion Twins pretty much stood pat, using their offseason to lock up Joe Mauer and Nick Blackburn, while the White Sox and Tigers did some significant dealing. And the Royals got Rick Ankiel. At least Indians fans are optimistic! Even more so than last year when Rob picked them to win the division. To the picks!

5. Kansas City Royals

The Good:

  • Reigning AL Cy Young winner and most popular player in baseball Zach Greinke is geared up for another big season, the second of a five year deal. Despite a down year in 2009, #2 starter Gil Meche has done a mostly admirable job in KC.

  • Billy Butler lived up to some expectations last season and is as legitimate a run producer as other more highly touted divisional infielders like Justin Morneau or Miguel Cabrera.

  • Joakim Soria.

  • Despite being something of a major league reclamation project for '07 and '08, Scott Podsednik actually represents an upgrade at leadoff over last season's injury necessitated twosome of Coco Crisp and Willie Bloomquist. Wait, maybe this should be in the bad column.

The Bad:

  • Rick Ankiel fell off an offensive cliff last year and is projected to hit 2nd. Alex Gordon spent most of last year injured and is starting this season off with a broken thumb. Couple that with Jose Guillen still getting a huge share of the at bats in the 5 spot and it's hard to see where any production outside of Butler is going to come from.

  • Infield defense.

  • Brian Bannister is now coming off of two disappointing seasons and along with the underwhelming Ho Shaver and Kyle Davies round out the staff. Not enough arms.

Predictions: 60-102 record, Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes remake "Love Lift Us Up" as "Back In The Basement Where We Belong." It becomes the 7th inning Jam O' the Year at Kauffman.

4. Cleveland Indians

The Good:

  • Coming off of career years, Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin Soo Choo fit nicely with Grady "Teacup" Sizemore at the top of the order.

  • Indians people are chomping at the bit to get Matt LaPorta some at bats. He's a Florida alum, I am rooting for abject failure, but by all accounts he's a natural hitter and decent fielder so I'm probably out of luck.

  • Kerry Wood entering his 3rd season as a viable major league closer. He's averaged over 10/K per game since moving to the back end.

The Bad:

  • Eesh, that rotation. Westbrook, Carmona, Masterson, Laffey and something named Mitch Talbot. At least Westbrook is in the last year of a terrible contract.

  • Travis Hafner nee Travis Hafner is shouldering the burden for a full season in the cleanup spot. He showed flashes of his old self in limited AB last season, but how much has he really lost? This actually belongs somewhere between the good and bad.

Predictions: 69-93 record, Hot prospect catcher "Lou Marson" turns out to be an 82 year old nymphomaniac chainsmoking woman.

3. Chicago White Sox

The Good:

  • Jake Peavy is on the Southside. What seems like it was a 25 year struggle for the Good Ol' Boy to escape from San Diego lands him as the 1a starter with Mark Beurhle. Formidable top of the rotation.

  • A full season from 2B Gordon Beckham should produce some big numbers at the plate.

The Bad:

  • Too much riding on Alex Rios and Juan Pierre both in the outfield and in the top half of the order. Rios's had a .296 OBP in 2009 and Pierre had a feel good season in LA but getting an entire's season of ABs in the leadoff spot could make Chicago fans forget that quickly.

  • Defense up the middle from from Beckham and Alexei Ramirez is error prone and not all that rangey.

  • Carlos Quentin is now one and a third injury riddled seasons removed from proving that his MVPish season in '08 was no fluke.

Predictions: 77-85 record, Ozzie Guillen leaves his wife and moves in with his mistress, a 450 pound lion. Gavin Floyd buys a pogo stick.

2. Minnesota Twins

The Good:

  • Boy, that Joe Mauer aint too shabby. Morneau, Kubel and Cuddyer also have their moments. We have yet to know anything about park factor at Target Field, but a nearly identical lineup produced the most runs in the division last year and 4th overall in the AL.

  • Francisco Liriano is healthy and out of minor league options. 200 innings out of him could significantly boost this rotation.

  • Ron Gardenhire looks like this.

The Bad:

  • Baker, Pavano, and Slowey all gave up around 10 hits per game last year. This doesn't bode well for new 2B Orlando Hudson.

  • Joe Nathan is hurt!

  • Without a significant contribution from Liriano that puts 50's country star Glen Perkins back in the rotation. Not optimal.

Predictions: 82-80 record, JJ Hardy cries himself to sleep each night because he misses the tropical climate of Milwaukee, Delmon Young puts out a record of droney shoegaze on Drag City.

1. Detroit Tigers

The Good:

  • You'll notice that the Tigers are the only team in the division that didn't land in the bottom five of last year's UZR ratings (The Royals were 30th, the Twins 28th, the White Sox 27th, and the Indians 26th). The Tigers were 5th and that ranking wouldn't have suffered dramatically without Curtis Granderson's 1.6.

  • Granderson's replacement in CF, Austin Jackson, has tremendous potential and along with 2B Scott Sizemore could make up the best rookie tandem in the league.
  • Verlander is a near ace, Rick Porcello is emerging as one and with the young Max Scherzer on board, there is enough upside (shoot me) to this rotation to potentially smooth over the bad old times of last year's Dontrelle Willis debacle, and non-seasons from Jeremy Bonderman and Nate Robertson.

  • There are still plenty of home runs in the dusty old bats of Damon, Guillen, and Cabrera (who isn't even old). And possibly Tilde.

The Bad:

  • Robertson and Bonderman are penciled into the rotation again. Drastic improvement is needed.

  • A long losing streak, a wave of tough injuries or other varied misfortunes could really send Smilin' Jim Leyland packing for retirement midseason. After last year's collapse I imagine his last working, coffee colored nerve to be near extinction.

Predictions: 84-78 record, Gerald Laird takes his pants off in the DMV claiming that his vision is fine but his butt needs glasses.

Joe DiMaggio's Dugout - 1950

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Well this Classic TV Friday had me enthralled for the full 13 minutes, even if I had to look at Phil Rizzuto for some of it. "Joe DiMaggio's Dugout" ran for one season on NBC in 1950. Joe quizzed kids on baseball and gave playing tips while the show made liberal use of the relatively new technology of slow motion. Don't let the long run time on the video turn you off. I can't think of a better way to ease back into the season than to watch stuff like this.

I'm a huge fan of Steve, the kid with the glasses all the way to the right. Go Steve. Go.


If there is one idea that defines "New Media" more than any other, it's that news can be a two way street. Hey, you're not just a reader, you're a part of the story. On any major media site you can bear witness to the higher intellectual plane to which New Media has helped us to ascend. It seems like the more popular the publication, the higher the level of discourse. The more "blue collar" the site, the more insightful the voice of Joe The Whatever becomes. It's almost like to really understand a story you should skip it entirely and just read the comments. I dare you to prove me wrong.

If holding the shell of internet comments to your ear is to hear the full swell of the zeitgeist's rising tide, then the water in Cleveland is um... sad? I'm bad at metaphors. The Cleveland Plain Dealer is featuring an Indians Comment Of The Day allowing people from such far flung locales as Boston or Philadelphia to take the pulse of the Tribe's loyal followers. And it's only taken a week of Spring Training for them to plummet from "Cautious But Not Fatalistic" to "This Is The Worst Team That Ever Teamed." The pathos is breathtaking and the Plain Dealer's selection of comments hits all the right notes. They're artists.

Camp started on 2/22 with the following optimistic, but clearly delusional, pick me up from jamesoncurry1

To all the whiners and crybabies - Give this team a chance. We have far better prospects and more pieces in place then when we rebuilt in 2003 and 2004. Most Clevelanders don't understand that Shapiro is very respected nationally. 2008 and 2009 we had big payrolls and things just didn't go our way. That's all.

Slow down there jameson, and quit making blanket statements about Mark Shapiro being respected. Other than that, you're right. Things didn't go your way in the past, but it's a new season SO WHO'S COMING ALONG FOR THE RIDE!?

Bipolar commenter extraordinaire wahoojoyce. that's who! Don't hurt your neck trying to follow Joyce's mood swings from this comment on 2/24.

Stop already. This team will not lose 100 games! They won't beat the Twins because the Twins have a viable rotation, but the other teams in this division are no better than the Tribe. That said, .500 is the reality. Geez, I would rather have the Yankees talent like we did in the 90's, but we don't. This team is young and will be fun to watch. Give it a chance.

But it wouldn't take long before the miserable insurrection implied in Joyce's "Stop already" swallowed everything and began what I'm sure will be a wild ride dominating the ICOTD. One day, in fact.

On 2/25 the paper spotlighted a comment from chuckheston, someone who certainly doesn't respect Mark Shapiro and, unfortunately for Shapiro, is most likely a gun enthusiast.

Typical Shapiro move. We'll move LaPorta, the centerpiece of the CC trade and likely a better 1B than OF, to LF so we can squeeze some fringe MLB veteran into the lineup. And yet these clowns that own and run this team wonder why there is so much apathy with the fanbase.

Well what about the Indians rotation? What about Fausto Carmona, that guy's good right? southernbuck says "shit no".

My opinion is Fausto never threw strikes. He had the sinker from Hell and in 2007 everyone swung at pitches that would have been balls. The Major League hitters figured him out. They lay off that pitch now. That's how Boston beat him in 2007. Everybody does now.

Well, geez. Is this the most depressed fanbase in baseball? The paper of record has decided to put the voice of the fans on record and before the FIRST SPRING TRAINING GAME has started these cats are raining tears on the Cuyahoga. New Boo Hoo Media. Take us home, linky8.

I got my husband opening day tickets for his birthday. He said I don't know if that means you love or hate me. Pretty much sums it up.

Sums up the Indians or sums up your marriage? Who cares. Something tells me this is going to be a recurring feature on The Plain Dealer AND on WoW.

That's Why They Play The Games: 2010 AL West

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It's almost go time, which it means it's time for our annual divisional previews. Feel free to look back at 2008 and 2009 to figure out how much stock you should actually put in these.

Last year's AL West race was, once again, about as exciting as listening to your coworker tell you what she did this weekend. The Angels won, your coworker and "the boy" just stayed in and chilled on Sunday. Watched a movie. The Rangers kind of made it interesting for a minute before they dropped completely out of even Wild Card contention, your coworker thought about going to that cool flea market but they hardly get the time to sit around and veg like that you know? Sometimes you just need it. She says all this as you remember that she said the exact same thing about spending last Sunday in front of the TV. Weren't the Angels supposed to regress or something? Dammit, I'm going on break.

But this year should be different. The Rangers and the Mariners are both ascendant and the Angels will almost certainly be in the running for awhile. They always are. I think this may be one of the most exciting races of the year.

4. Oakland A's

The Good:

  • The young pitching staff gets a nominal leader in free agent acquision Ben Sheets. Yes, Sheets hasn't exactly pitched in the recent past but impressed teams in offseason workouts and is tailor made for the imaginary role of veteran/teacher that people like to write about so much.

  • The rest of that staff containts two good left handers in Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden and possibly another emerging southpaw, Gio Gonzalez. Who you can watch get a haircut here:

  • OF Rajai Davis had a quiet breakout season in 2009, getting on base at a .360 clip and stealing 41 bases. He'll be moving to the top of the order (ahead of new CF Coco Crisp) and you can expect that SB total to rise. He could be the league leader.

The Bad:

  • The A's sat in the bottom half of the AL in runs scored and primary offensive additions Kevin Kouzmanoff and Crisp won't do a lot to signifcantly increase that number. They'll be relying on significant improvement from the rotation to up their win total. With the injury histories of both Sheets and Justin Duscherer, that's a can miss proposition.

Predictions: 77-85 record, Eric Chavez plays a total of 6 games and wears a catheter in each one. Bob Geren eats his weight in rocks and sticks.

3. Anaheim Angels

The Good:

  • Even with the departure of 3B Chone Figgins, their infield is one of the most talented in baseball. Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick, Brandon Wood and Kendry Morales all put up career years at the plate in 2009 and were all on the plus side in UZR.

  • The additions of Brian Stokes and Fernando Rodney should shore up the pen and bring it closer to the level of its mid decade heyday.

The Bad:

  • The Angels lost John Lackey to free agency and didn't do anything to replace him in the rotation. The rotation of Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana, Scott Kazmir and Joel Pineiro shouldn't strike fear in the hearts of anyone else in the division. Spring training optimism notwithstanding.

Predictions: 83-79 record, Mike Napoli grows a transcendent coke nail.

2. Texas Rangers

The Good:

  • Last year's team allowed an astonishing 250 fewer runs than the 2008 incarnation. 2010 may lower it yet again. The addition of Rich Harden and the maturation of the accountanty named Scott Feldman should make the rotation even better. Elvis Andrus at short helps too.

  • Count healthy Josh Hamilton, healthy Vlad Guerrero and healthy Ian Kinsler as one of the more powerful cores in the league and certainly the division.

The Bad:
  • The Rangers faded hard down the stretch and Dallas News writer/Cheeseburger Enthusiast Evan Grant has a great look at the challenges facing this offense besides potential injury. Better plate appearances are crucial to getting this team over the hump and into the playoffs, but you're not exactly dealing with malleable rookies here.

Predictions: 92-70 record, Frank Francisco goes on Antiques Roadshow to get his toothbrush appraised, The Marriage Ref gets canceled.

1. The Seattle Mariners

The Good:

  • Most people are in agreement that Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee are the best 1-2 in all of baseball. Teams with the best 1-2 in all of baseball usually fair pretty well.

  • Chone Figgins, Casey Kotchman and Jack Wilson are all additions that bolster the defense and a healthy Milton Bradley could make up for some of the power lost when Russell Branyan departed.

  • The Bad:

  • Despite the aforementioned defensive upgrades it comes as something of a wash after losing Mike Cameron (in 2003) and Adrian Beltre.

Predictions: 94-68 record, Jack Zduriencik (Daddy Warbucks) dons a toupee made out of empty soup cans for entire second half of season.