Love him or hate him, Carlos Gomez is just what Milwaukee needs

Tell me the last time you watched part of a Milwaukee Brewers game. You can’t, unless it was this:

or this

There are the Yankees and Dodgers and Red Sox and Cardinals, then your Rangers/Braves/Tigers/Pirates, and then the Brewers, Royals, Rays, and Padres – teams you think of last when doing this trivia question.

But Carlos Gomez has altered this. Whether you like him or not, Gomez’s short fuse and propensity to get under opponents’ skin has shed his vulnerability to indifference, a trait too easy to tag to anyone who plays in Wisconsin, no offense.

Bernie Mac didn’t play for the Red Sox or Phillies in Mr. 3000. He played for the Milwaukee Brewers; it was slightly more expensive than making up an MLB team #LikeMike.

Maybe you love Carlos Gomez. Maybe you don’t. But if you’re familiar with his work over the last ten months, it’s hard to not have an opinion on him. Indifference is a television program’s worst nightmare.

When was the last time you had a reason to watch the Milwaukee Brewers. Any Robin Yount fans reading this?

In TV, it’s all about the ratings, and Gomez has finally given the Brewers a semblance of attraction to the average fan. Brewers ratings will be a a tad higher this year than any since their playoff push in 2008. I’ll guarantee it.

Maybe the Mets should have held on to this guy…

The 2001 Yankees is Sports’ Greatest Tragedy Story

On November 4th 2001, I was lying in bed listening to game 7 of the 2001 World Series on radio. My father wouldn’t let me watch past a certain time because I had school the next day. I forget when, but at some point he came into my room and invited me into his to watch. I’ll never forget that.

My team was coming off three consecutive World Series wins and on the verge of number four. As an 11 year old, I  had only seen success. Four World Series championships watered down by my spoiled subconscious telling me, “Of course the Yankees will win.” I had never seen anything different.

And then this happened.

In that moment, shock, confusion, and disbelief showed me sports are never scripted. It’s the ultimate reality television. My team is mortal.

But wasn’t it supposed to be the perfect storm?

The Capital of the World, ravaged by arguably the worst terrorist attack in recordable history, overcomes all odds to win the championship of America’s Pastime, odds that included:

– A month earlier: Derek Jeter’s game-saving flip to Jorge Posada against the Athletics helped the Yankees rally from two games down to win the ALDS
– Four days prior: A ninth-inning, two-run, game-tying home run preceded an extra-inning walk-off win at Yankee Stadium
– Three days prior: The same thing, off the same pitcher

(According to baseball reference, entering the ninth inning, the Yankees had a 10% chance to win those games. One in 100 to win both)

It’s tough to paint the Yankees as the victim in sports’ greatest tragedy, but that’s what gives this story the added dimension – everyone hates the Yankees. September 11th temporarily changed that, and never again will the Evil Empire have more likeability than they did that postseason.

My thesis statement here is the headline of this article. The pieces were in place for a perfect story.

Until the last chapter, it was.

The goat of that last chapter, Mariano Rivera will retire at the end of the 2013 season. The greatest closer of all time will no longer throw his golden pitch. The number 42 will never again make the red carpet jog from the Yankee Stadium bullpen to its mound. Enter Sandman will be retired.

Yes, players of all sports post tangible numbers, but different fans assign different weight to different stats, thus rarely is one player unanimously rendered “The Greatest”.

Can you make the argument why Mariano Rivera isn’t the greatest closer of all time?

*Arguing a “closer” needs to throw more than an inning, ala Goose Gossage or Dennis Eckersley, is the sole sound argument I’ve heard against Rivera, but I think that argument is lame when stacked up against Rivera’s consistent numbers.*

His career’s only beauty mark  came November 4th, 2001.

On baseball’s biggest stage, in the world’s biggest city, facing the world’s worst terroist attack in recent memory, a country came together as the tattered American flag from the North Tower waved bravely above Yankee Stadium, where 13 miles away the fire still burned. Instead, a small market team from Arizona celebrated.

What sports tragedy compares? For argument’s sake, I don’t count stories like the Marshall University tragedy or similar others that transcend sports. If you can think of others, I want to hear. I don’t want my bias as a Yankees fan to influence my opinion. I simply couldn’t think of another sports tragedy equal.

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Sporcle of the Week: Active Hit Leaders By Team

It’s nice to see spring training back in gear. I can finally sense a shade of optimism scattered through the depressing 40 degree, cloudy days New Jersey Februarys are so well known for.

At this point I’m almost excited for allergy season.

I came across a great Sporcle. Challenging but fun – Name every MLB team’s active hits leader. The Easter egg in this is you can name any active player in the team’s top 150 (I think) all time and it’ll give you credit for it.

I got 16 out of 30. The average score is 22-25.

Welcome back to baseball!!

SPORCLE OF THE WEEK: ACTIVE HIT LEADERS BY TEAM

Why Granderson’s Injury May Be a Positive For the Yankees

It took less than an inning. Picking up right where the Yankees left off in last year’s ALDS, a broken forearm will sideline all-star outfielder Curtis Granderson until May. The knee-jerk reaction is “here we go again,” “that sucks,” and other one-liners emanating negativity and pessimism.

But nothing against Granderson, and I don’t wish injury upon anybody, but it wouldn’t bother me if he was out for the year.

Since the Yankees’ scrappy dynasty of the late 90’s, the Steinbrenner wallet has headed the forefront of the New York Yankees product – cashmere-quality athletes who, on paper, should give the Yankees a World Series every two or three years.

About 12 years have gone by since the subjective start of this philosophy and the trend has been anything but what the Evil Empire expected – while borderline unfair, one championship in 12 years isn’t acceptable in the Bronx.

Personally, I want to see young guns get a chance to showcase their skills for the team who’s scouts handpicked them. There’s something different about cheering for a Robinson Cano vs. Alex Rodriguez, Brett Gardner vs. Mark Teixeira.

I’m not hating on A-Rod nor Teixeira, but the majesty of, for instance,  the ’98 Yankees came partially due to the homegrown talent that together created the perfect jigsaw puzzle: Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, David Cone, Mariano Rivera.

As a die-hard Yankee fan it seems my team today is kind of…. artificial.

It’s why I don’t mind watching Cashman wiggle his way out of paying a cent in luxury tax. Give your homegrown talent a chance to shine. The big bully free agency strategy is nice in theory, but has not shown the results we’ve come to expect out of the Bronx Bombers.

Remember Tony Womack? In 2005 the Yankees signed the veteran second baseman to a deal, only to forfeit that position to a young Robinson Cano that May due to Womack’s inability to do anything.

I don’t expect a home run like this to come from Granderson’s strike of bad luck, but there are Jeremy Lins out there waiting for their time.

Take as much time as you need Curtis. We want you healthy… but hopefully more good will come out of this than bad, and I hope a 22-year old Joe Schmo will have the chance to cash in.

Sporcle of the Week: MLB Ballparks

Amongst the cold and depressing month we call February hides the slippery slope to happiness – Pitchers and Catchers!

With baseball just around the corner I retook one of my favorite Sporcles of all-time: Name every ballpark in Major League Baseball. I’m very sloppy and only was able to recall 21 of the 30 but I’ll call it a success.

Who’s ready for baseball!?!?

Chapman to the Rotation Will be the Worst Move in the MLB this Season

At 106 MPH, Aroldis Chapman can throw a baseball harder than any human on Earth.
At 106 MPH, Aroldis Chapman can throw a baseball harder than any human on Earth.

The Reds have agreed to a three-year extension with reliever Jonathan Broxton, presumably to fill their closer role and finally thrust the Cuban hurler Arolids Chapman into the rotation — as was their intention this year until Ryan Madson tore his pitching elbow.

This move will blow out Chapman’s arm and bring his career to a Greg Oden-like halt. It will break a 97-win team from this year and turn Reds clubhouse to side-choosing – Do we start him? Do we put him in the bullpen?

I don’t understand the near unanimous mindset among professional baseball teams that starting pitching is exponentially more important than a quality middle reliever.

Remember Joba Chamberlain?

Chapman can throw the ball up to 106 miles an hour, harder than any human on Earth. As a side note, I think throwing a ball that hard in any volume will blow out an arm, but why have him throw upwards of 200 innings a year when his previous high is 71.2?

http://mlkshk.com/r/1LXFA few years ago, Chapman got “105” tattooed on his body. When he threw the ball a mile an hour faster the following year, he got it changed to “106.”

Chapman has the hotts for heat. He will try to throw the ball 107. If you put him in the rotation, he will have to sacrifice some mph, something I don’t think he really wants to do.

Don’t underestimate that tattoo. You don’t put something on your body if it doesn’t have substance to who are as a being. If he gets an adrenaline rush by throwing the ball hard, then cater to it.

Keep him in the bullpen. Keep his innings important. Keep his adrenaline pumping. Someone who can throw that hard is already walking on eggshells – the human arm simply cannot keep that pace up.

https://i0.wp.com/2.bp.blogspot.com/_6oxf35Gsi6E/TT-P-9-RTZI/AAAAAAAAHRM/4mGGUPtOJtI/s1600/Joba.jpgIn 2007, Yankees pitching prospect Joba Chamberlain was brought up to a world of success. A starting pitcher his entire pre-MLB career, Chamberlain and his 98 mph fastball threw to an unimaginable 0.38 ERA in 24 relief innings for the Yankees down the stretch.

A year later, the Yankees forced him into the rotation, and he transformed into a mediocre pitcher. He missed all of 2011 recovering from Tommy John surgery, his fastball finally hit 94 mph this year, and New York still holds onto unrealistic expectations we’ll somehow see glimmers of 2007 at some point in his career.

Starting pitchers used to always throw complete games. As we learned the dangers of that, we slowly started to limit pitcher’s outings (Here are the numbers that back it up) to the point where today, six innings or 100 pitches is a “quality” outing.

With relief pitching as important today as ever, team’s should start to emphasize the importance of not just a closer, but a seventh and eighth inning pitcher.

In the playoffs, you need three good starters plus a solid bullpen. Give your offense the best chance to score late, knowing Chapman will shut down the team in the eighth inning.

Cincinnati, don’t fix what isn’t broken. Understand the limits of the human body. By forcing Chapman into the rotation, you genetically alter a pitcher who belongs in the bullpen.

Keep that fastball at 105. Keep those innings down. Keep those wins coming. The playoff wins will follow.

Sporcle of the Week: Black Friday Edition

In honor of Black Friday and its great deals, this week’s Sporcle challenges you to name every $100+ million contract in MLB history. Ironic, but festive.

I impressed myself with 19 of 36.

I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving. Now we can get into the real holiday season!!

*TIP* Bang out all the Yankees first and go from there.
SPORCLE OF THE WEEK: MLB’s $100 MILLION CONTRACTS

Sporcle of the Week: Name any MLB Player

Name any batting title-eligible player on every MLB team in the last ten years. Example: Derek Jeter bangs out the whole Yankees part of the quiz. I should have done much better on this one. I got a meager 192 for 300.

Post your score on my Facebook page if you wish to rub it in my face.

If you lie about your score, your aunt and uncle will forget their WiFi password when you go there for Thanksgiving next week and you’ll have to rely solely on your data plan.

SPORCLE OF THE WEEK: NAME ANY PLAYER

A-Rod for Alfonso Soriano version 2013: The Perfect Trade

Alex Rodriguez is a burden to the Yankees. His off-the-field attention plus on-the-field mediocrity has failed him in New York.

Yesterday the Mets made a bold (but smart) decision to remove Jason Bay despite the $21 million left on his contract. They decided it was time.

I think it’s A-Rod’s time.

But to lessen the financial blow, the Yankees could make a move that brings in a separate terrible contract.

Could the Yankees retrade A-Rod for Alfonso Soriano?

In 2004, the Yankees sent Soriano, cash, and a player to be named later (eventually Joaquin Arias who just won a World Series ring) for Rodriguez. It was the blockbuster trade that guaranteed the Yankees World Series titles for the next five years.

Today, it would be the blockbuster trade that ends A-Rod’s underachieving, borderline embarrassing run in the Big Apple.

Yes, the Yankees don’t need Soriano, or even want him, but a designated hitter, late-game pinch hitter, and occasional corner outfielder (Nick Swisher has played his last game in New York) would be of value.

Soriano’s team hasn’t won a playoff series since 2003. I’m sure he’ll trade a demotion for a real chance at a championship. Ichiro Suzuki did.

In what may be sports’ most immovable contract, Rodriguez is slated to make $114 million over the next five years – five more years of this.

No team will take him unless given a going-out-of-business discount. Plus, Rodriguez is a 10-5 player (ten years in the league, the latest five for the same team) so he can veto any trade.

With his home and heart in Florida, how about Rodriguez to the Rays, Soriano back to the Yankees, and Tampa prospects to the Chicago Cubs?

The poor, loveable loser Cubs have the equally inconvenient piece to rid. Soriano is owed $36 million over the next two years. If the Yankees pick up Soriano’s full contract, Chicago would gladly pay $36 million of Rodriguez’s contract to gain essentially “free” prospects and open up room on the roster. They might pay up to $40 million if the prospects are right.

The Yankees’ former second baseman strikes out way too much and is unequivocally overpaid – fits right in with the Yankees already. Chicago would jump to lower their salary, and I believe Soriano would return to New York (also a 10-5 player) where he was a fan favorite in the early 2000s.

The Yankees can rid themselves of the cancer into which Rodriguez has manifested and pay a smaller portion of his salary.

$114 million – $40 million = The Yankees eat $74 million.

The city of Miami wants Alex Rodriguez and vice versa. With A-Rod’s abysmal production since his fantastic 2009, the Yankees can probably get Miami to pay him $25 million over his last five years (including the prospect[s] they send to Chicago).

$74 million – $25 million ≈ $50 million

Proposed Trade:

Chicago Cubs
Get: Tampa prospects
Give away: 40 million to pad Rodriguez’s salary
Give away: Alfonso Soriano to Yankees

New York Yankees
Get: Alfonso Soriano
Give Away: Alex Rodriguez to Miami
Lose: The remaining $50 or-so million on Rodriguez’s contract

Miami Marlins
Get: Alex Rodriguez ($25 million over five years)
Give Away: A prospect or two to Chicago

When all is said and done, why cant this work?

Brian Cashman and the Yankees have declared publicly they are trying to get below the $180 million mark for luxury tax relief, and with Soriano they would only owe $18 million per year over the next two, versus  about $23 million per year over the next five.

The best trades are the ones where all parties improve. At this point in Rodriguez’s career, the Yankees will benefit from a divorce, the Cubs can win some prospects, and Miami gets street value for a fun, back-page player who wants to be there.

Do you think Derek Jeter could talk Scott Brosius out of retirement?

 

Playing games 1 and 2 on the road is an advantage

I have a friend that works in New York City, and two days a week he has to deal with this one higher-up who he can’t stand. It makes his day miserable and there’s nothing he can do about it.

Put yourself in this situation – perhaps it’s very easy, would you rather deal with that person on Monday and Tuesday, or Wednesday and Thursday?

Abstractly, that’s the question you can pose to the remaining eight teams in the MLB postseason.

Because MLB adopted an additional wild card game after the 2012 schedule had been released, headquarters was forced to squish an extra day of baseball into a month-long period originally designed for one less game.

To make room, the team with home-field advantage in the division series will play games three, four, and five at home instead of the conventional sandwich setup of games one, two, and five at home. This takes out the second potential off-day of travel.

The first three years of the division series (1995-97) originally featured this “2-3” setup, but switched to “2-2-1” in 1998 to give the team with the better record a better chance to jump ahead in the series, arguing, “Give the best team the best chance to win.”

But I believe starting on the road is more advantageous for the “better” team. Team “Home-Field Advantage,” (referred to as “team HFA” for the rest of this post) can relax knowing one road win is the goal.

And if they lose both, you’re still coming back home for the rest of the series.

This happened in 1995. Don Mattingly and the Yankees faced Randy Johnson and the Seattle Mariners in the best of five, ’95 ALDS. With that original 2-3 format, the Yankees won games one and two at home before Seattle rallied for three straight wins Northwest. So losses in games one and two is not suicide.

Imagine this scenario:

In the 2-2-1 format, say the Yankees sneak into the playoffs with an 87-75 record and play the 103-59 Texas Rangers in the ALDS. With games one and two on the road, New York’s goal is to win just one of those two games, maybe get lucky, and hope to clinch at home.

On the flip side, Texas, by default, needs to win both home games to maintain home-field advantage. In baseball,  momentum changes with the next day’s starting pitcher – winning two straight can be a daunting task.

Probability coupled with a general guesstimation will tell you the better team will win both games only about 30-35% of the time, meaning the “wrong” team will have home-field advantage by game three 65-70% of the time.

So is it an advantage?

This year’s 2-3 setup takes loads of pressure off team HFA. Take the example a few paragraphs up, but now imagine the 2-3. Texas’ goal is to win just one game in New York, forcing the Yankees to win a best-of-three in the Lone Star State.

Essentially, the 2-2-1 setup puts an inordinate amount of pressure on the team with the best record.

If you disagree, here’s an article that argues why I’m completely wrong.

The argument above is if team HFA loses the first two games on the road, then the “wrong” team has stolen momentum and is in a prime position to advance.

“Well, then you should have won one of those first two games on the road. Maybe you’re not the better team,” is my answer to that.

With the 2-3, you take out one less day of travel. One less day of expensive flights and travel coordination. In a potential New York/Oakland matchup, you have a chance to adjust to the time difference and don’t get thrust back on a plane after a single night in a California hotel.

With today’s substantial emphasis on finance, you can use that money elsewhere.

Every time I’ve had a team with home-field advantage in the playoffs, “I” feel forced to win both those games, but with the HFA-Yankees going to Baltimore for the first two, I was more relaxed knowing one win out of the next two is the goal.

If the fans feel that way, then so does the organization.

Mr. Selig, I like this playoff setup. Tell the guy who wrote the article above he’s wrong, and punish him by returning to the format you originally drew up.