Friday, January 6, 2017

AL East Preview

Whattup whattup whattup. As the start of spring training keeps inching closer (37 days at the time I'm writing this), and most of the big name free agents already signed I figured it would be a good time to start breaking down each division. I'm going to try and spread it out so that I don't overload you with too much at once. First I'm going to start with the AL East, and you can't stop me.

1. Boston Red Sox

What is there to say about the Red Sox. They’re the class of the AL East. They are projected to have one of the best young outfields in recent memory with Jackie Bradley Jr in CF Mookie Betts in RF and uber prospect Andrew Benintendi in LF. Add in the best Arubian SS in the game with Xander Bogaerts. Oh and how can we forget that rotation. Perennial Cy Young Candidates Chris Sale and David Price, reigning Cy Young winner Rick Porcello, and 2016 All-Stars Steven Wright and Drew Pomeranz. The AL East is the Sawx to lose.

2. Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles just barely made the playoffs last year but lost to the Blue Jays in the Wild Card game. I have a soft spot for any team that loses in the Wild Card game because it’s kind of like being a homeless guy on Christmas Eve looking in the window of a happy family huddled around the open fire opening presents. So close yet so far.
The only significant moves the Orioles made this offseason was signing Welington Castillo instead of resigning Matt Wieters. Looking at their offensive and defensive stats they are almost identical. Wieters is a year older than Castillo. Wieters made almost $16m last year whereas Castillo is due to make $6m this year. So this is a savvy move by the Orioles. I don’t see the Orioles winning the division this year but I can see them fighting for one of the Wild Card spots again for sure.  

3. New York Yankees
The Yankees missed the Wild Card last year by 5 games, which is surprising considering the AARP squad they rolled out to start the year.
Yankees 2016 Starting Lineup
Due to a midseason youth infusion the Yanks came dangerously close to making a playoff push before they cooled off in the last couple of weeks of the season. El Gary Sanchez, Aaron the Judge Jury and Executioner, and Tyler Austin all helped set the tone for the next wave of Yanks prospects. Add in Greg Bird, who most people forget started his career off with a bang when he was called up two years ago before he got hurt in spring training last year, and the addition of the big red hope Clint Frazier
As a Yankee fan I cannot wait for this majestic beast to grace the the field for my team this year. Unfortunately, despite all of these prospects making an impact with the big league club, the Yanks are still 1 or 4 SP away from seriously contending in the AL Beast. However, I expect them to make more noise than most people expect by finishing third. Maybe I’m biased because I’m a Yankee fan. Maybe I’m not. Maybe fuck you this is my list I can put anybody wherever I want. I was already pretty close to putting the Red Sox in last because fuck them but I want to maintain my journalistic integrity.

4. Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays made it all the way to the ALCS last year after knocking off the Orioles in the Wild Card game and beating the Rangers again in the ALDS. There was a lot of rumors surrounding Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista and whether the Jays were willing to shell out the cash to resign the aging superstars. We’ve already seen Encarnacion jump ship and hop on board with the team that beat the Jays in the ALCS, the Indians. And they don’t seem overly anxious to resign Bautista. Bautista has been garnering interest from clubs other than the Jays such as the Phillies and the Orioles and I’m sure there’s more. Assuming the Jays lose Bautista and Encarnacion, the heart of their lineup is basically completely gutted other than perennial MVP Candidate Josh Donaldson. Look for their rotation to come back down to earth after Sanchez and Happ both had career years going an absurd combined 35-6 with 3.09 ERA. I don’t see the Blue Jays making the playoffs this year after just barely making the wild card last year and seemingly not improving in the offseason.

5. Tampa Bay Rays
What is there to say about the Tampa Bay Rays? Not much really. Evan Longoria had one of his better years in quite some time last season. Kevin Kiermaier had the 27th best WAR in the majors last year, so that’s something. The Rays also signed Wilson Ramos who I am a huge fan of personally but he is expected to be out until at least May possibly June after receiving surgery on his right knee. Its not all bad for the Rays though who have a pretty good rotation with the likes of Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi and supposed stud prospect Blake Snell who looks like some kind of movie monster/animal that I can’t quite figure out at this point in time but i will revisit this.
Idk you be the judge.

Look for the Rays to really not do a whole lot this year, or don't, I dont really care.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Incoherent Ramblings of an Angry Baseball Fan Pt. 2 (Unwritten Rules)

Guess who's back after an almost two week hiatus?? That's right, your favorite baseball blogger under the age of 25 that still lives at home with his parents and who may or may not have doubled his body mass in the last two weeks, itsa me, Big Tones. I had to take a little break with the holidays going on and everything so that I could focus solely on eating my body weight in Italian food and drinking until I couldn't see.
Yeah something like that

Fuck you Kermit
But its a new year now, and a new me, my resolution is to talk to you guys more, all 20 of you that read this. Ok, now back to the topic at hand. Im back with part 2 of my Incoherent Rambling series and I got a lot of shit to get off my chest. Sticking with the theme of the popularity of baseball (or lack thereof) in America I want to talk about baseball's "Unwritten Rules". Nobody really knows exactly what these "Unwritten Rules" are, mainly because they aren't written down anywhere. These rules come from an era where men were men, and they treated each other with respect. You wouldn't be flashy because it was disrespectful to your fellow man and the only people who were flashy back then were homosexuals. Can't have everyone thinking your a gay now can you.

In all seriousness though, these "rules" are alienating younger fans who don't fully understand them. Even myself who claims to be a hardcore baseball fan don't fully get them. Why is it ok for Lebron to do whatever this stupid fucking thing is?

Or for Gronk to spike the ball to the moon

Or even for Ronaldo to do this?

But Bautista can't even do a bat flip after hitting potentially the biggest home run of his career without dealing with severe backlash

Come on guy's even soccer has better celebrations than us. As a red blooded American who thoroughly enjoys a nice ribeye and more than a couple Budweisers I cannot allow this to go on any longer. Now join me as I combat some of my least favorite "unwritten rules" and continue my quest to make baseball fun again.

Right there with ya Bryce

Unwritten Rule #1: Don't Bunt to break up a No-Hitter

This one is a big no-no among baseball "purists". The idea behind this rule is that if you can't break up the no-hitter with a "traditional" base hit then you deserve to be no-hit. So by that logic if the pitcher is throwing a perfect game you shouldn't take ball 4 because its a cheap way to get on base. Listen, I consider myself fairly competitive person in general, so I'm all for winning anyway you can by any means necessary. If that means you have to lay down a bunt to get any kind of rally going then you do that. When I was a kid and played baseball I was compared to the likes of Mo Vaughn, at least in terms of physique and athleticism.
Being that I was a man child I generally had more power than the kids I was facing. Occasionally they would back the infield up when I would get up to bat. So what would I do if I was having a bit of a cold streak? I'd drop a bunt down the third base line just to get on base to help my team. If you're down 1-0 and the other pitcher is throwing a no-hitter and you drop a bunt down for a base hit, that throws the pitchers mojo off, next thing you know you could get a rally going just by reaching base. At the end of the day the point of playing the game is to win the game, so don't give me this bullshit playing the game the "right way". If you won then you played the game right.

Unwritten Rule #2: Dont walk across the pitchers mound

This rule was relatively unknown, at least by me,  until a few years ago. After returning to 1st from 3rd on a foul ball Arod ran across the mound sparking outrage from Dallas Braden and the rest of the Athletics at the time. This is one of many instances of fake tough guys trying to "police" the game. Now, as a Yankee fan I have a tumultuous relationship with Arod. And he is known for doing stupid things from time to time such as slapping the ball out of someones glove
Or yelling "Mine" while rounding the bases on a pop out and starting a fight with another group of fake tough guys
Or the time he did this
All that being said in this situation I 100% back him up. Geometrically speaking the shortest distance from 3rd to 1st is through the middle of the field by the pitchers mound. And from all reports it didn't seem like Arod was trying to intimidate Braden or talk any shit or anything of that sort. Arod was just trying to get back to 1st and Braden absolutely lost his shit. And notice how he waited to lose his shit until after the inning was over and everybody was walking back to the dugout. Bro, if it really bothered you that much do something about it then and there, don't yell from the opposite side of the field when there's like 40 people between the two of you to break anything up.
Sweet Hair Bruh

Unwritten Rule 3: Don't show up the other guy
This "Unwritten Rule" is the one that you probably hear about the most, and is probably my most hated. The general consensus is that you don't want to show the other guy up by celebrating right in his grill piece. FUUUCK THAAT! Baseball is one of the few sports where the outcome is largely based on one on one battles. It's one of the sports where you're in control of what happens when you get on the field (generally speaking). When you get up to the plate, you're in control of your at-bat. If you strike out its because you swung and missed or didn't swing at a strike. When you step on that mound its up to you to make the right pitches to strike the guy out. Thats what drew me towards baseball, thats why I love it. Thats why I loved to pitch, I loved that one on one, me vs you, mano y mano mentality. That being said, if you have an ounce of competitiveness in your bones you should want to celebrate a big strike out, or a big hit. I know, I know, your probably sitting there like "hey, Big Tones, I thought in baseball you're not supposed to show the other guy up?". And to that I say again FUUUCK THAAT! If you don't want me to celebrate then stop me from beating you in the first place. You don't want me to bat flip? Don't let me hit a homerun. Don't want me to fist pump after a strike out? Don't let me strike you out. Plain and simple.

The Bat Flip/Trot around the bases
This kind of falls under the same rule of "not showing up the other guy" but this has been a hot topic of discussion in recent years so I felt that it needed to be address individually. One of the first memorable incidents with a bat flip becoming a problem was in 2001 when then rookie Jimmy Rollins hit a 2 run shot off of Cardinals reliever Steve Kline. Rollins flipped his bat and after the game Kline said to reporters "That's fucking little league shit" "If you're going to flip the bat, I'm going to flip your helmet next time. You're a rookie, you respect this game for a while...there's a code. He should know better than that." I don't man, just sounds like you're butt hurt to me bruh. I'll paraphrase myself again, if you don't want me to bat flip don't let me hit a home run you bitch. 

There have been other bat flipping incidents but the most recent and most publicized was the Jose Bautista bat flip. 
That was a 3-run HR in the bottom of the 7th of game 5 of the ALDS to take the lead. The homerun would end up being the deciding blow in the series. How in the FUCK do you not celebrate that. Thats literally what kids dream about growing up, hitting a deciding homerun in the playoffs infront of the home crowd, add the fact that it was an absolute moonshot. I mean just look at the crowds reaction behind him, its a no doubter, they know it, joey bats knows it, everybody knows it. If that doesn't get you juiced up and itching to take some hacks in the cage then I don't want to know you.

Fast forward to spring next year and there is still some butt-hurtness over the incident that leads to this
I actually did respect this move by Odor. It led to one of the more memorable baseball fights since 
Instead of one of those other "pow-wows"


Basically what the whole point of this blog has been is that I wish baseball players would play more with emotion and not by some set of "unwritten rules" that nobody truly even understands. Let loose, celebrate a little when you've done something good, don't get butt hurt about stuff. And lastly, don't play by some made up rules that were most likely written by these fucking guys