Tag Archives: Washington Nationals

PARITY BE DAMNED – MLB HAS IT RIGHT

Parity is something discussed incessessantly in professional sports. How can you make things “even” between competing teams. This discussion explains from the quintessential baseball movie “Moneyball”

imageIn 2012, Major League Baseball expanded it’s number of teams making the playoffs from 8 to 10. This resulted in each of the thirty teams having a one in three chance of securing a spot in the postseason.

At the same time, the National Football league allows 12 of its 32 teams in the playoffs. This results in 37.5% of the teams making the cut, or three out of every eight teams. More teams get in than in baseball, but not nearly as many as in the parity driven NBA……

If you play in the National Basketball Assosciation, your team has an astounding one out of two chances to be in the postseason and maybe that explains why they drag on for two months.image

 

Baseball has it about right and any further moves to add more teams into the mix will only serve to water the playoffs down further by creating superficial fan interest in teams that are simply not very good to begin with.

In other words, don’t fix something that ain’t broke………..and besides……this format is thriving……

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The Ups And Downs Of A Basebal Season

In the half century I’ve been following baseball, I’ve never ceased to be amazed by the ups and downs of a l-o-n- g baseball season. Through 81 games in the NBA, 16 in the NFL, nothing compares to the stretch of 162 games played over six months.

Some would say that’s exactly why I don’t follow baseball – the season is too long and the games are even longer. Well to each his own I guess, but let the naysayers be reminded that when you sit down for a 1:00 game in the NFL – that game takes longer to play than the average (under 3 hours now) ballgame.

And don’t even talk to me about about the last two minutes of a NBA game!

But we’re not talking about that. imageWe’re talking about the ups and downs of a baseball season and how that lends itself to continued fan interest over a season. Open a NFL season at 0-5 and you’re done – prepare for the draft and for ESPN solemnly admitting that it made a mistake in scheduling you for the 12th game of the season on Sunday night.

So what are these ups and downs we’ve witnessed so far at the halfway point in the 2016 season and what might be coming in the second half as baseball accelerates to the playoffs and an eventual World Series title……

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BRYCE HARPER’S COME BACK YEAR – YES REALLY!

At the end of the 2015 season, I wrote a piece about Bryce Harper that  still gets a lot of attention from Google. It was called Bryce Harper – Another Baseball Brat. As you might guess, it was not very flattering.

At the time, it irked me that while his team was limping to the finish line following an embarrassing and disappointing second place finish, imageHarper appeared to be in a vacuum of denial openly stating (paraphrasing) “Hey, I’ve got six more games to go, leave me alone would ya?”

Quite obviously, that bothered me because it didn’t take a giant leap to go from there to, “Hey, can’t you see I’m trying to win a MVP here?” (my quotes)

Now, I’m beginning to wonder not if I was wrong about him, but that maybe he is turning a corner this year and putting all that I/Me Me stuff behind him……..because if he is this kid is destined to have a monumental year for himself as well as being able to carry the Nationals on his back and into the playoffs……….

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“MATT THE BRAT” AGAIN!

Along with me, you may be getting a bit annoyed with the episodic relapses  stemming from Matt Harvey’simage diva personality and his ensuing behavior. 

In his latest rant, he is refusing to speak with the media since last Wednesday because he didn’t like how  he was portrayed in local newspapers following a health scare he had related to a issue with his bladder.

Never mind that anyone living in the New York City area and with any intelligence at all knows that there are clear ways to distinguish  the New York Post and the Daily News from the New York Times, and that both papers use attention getting headlines to attract readers, and that some (actually many) of their headlines fall way short of being imageflattering to the subject of their story.

And never mind that Harvey brought this illness on himself by continuing to regularly “hold it in” instead of relieving the pressure on his bladder. But then again, this is what we expect little boys to do.

Harvey is not a kid. He’s 28 years old and it would be hard to imageimagine that the Mets front office as well as his teammates aren’t getting weary of making excuses for his propensity to whine every time adversity arises in his life.

Matt Harvey wants to be Joe Namath? No problem. Just know that there are consequences for going in that direction ……. because in this town you ain’t seen nothin’ yet……..

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LOOKING THROUGH THE CRYSTAL BALL……

It’s always fun to be present at this time of the year as we approach the renewal of a baseball season when all things are bright and Spring Training becomes a memory that is soon lost in the posting of standingsimage      that actually count as the long season begins.

Because at this time of the year, all thirty teams have hope that is not only the breadth of spring in the air, but also the promise that yesterday is no more and this is a brand new season that holds mystery and intrigue that could imagelead to places yet unknown……..

But rather than joining the ever expanding list of “predictors “, I thought it might be a better conversation to ask some questions that are relevant and designed to provoke some thought…….

Answers are free. Correct answers cost five bucks each………

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WHEN THE BUSINESS OF BASEBALL CRUSHES BASIC HUMANITY

I have often used this space to shine a spotlight on the fact that the players who entertain us are not robots. imageThey have families, medical maladies, personal lives, good days and bad days – just like the rest of us. They often get traded and sold, put on waivers, released, sent down to the minors only to be recalled and then sent down again on the whim of a general manager. They are also held in captivity by the team that signed them for the first six years of their career. And more to the point here, they’re away from their spouses and children for a minimum of six months, returning only during home stands that are increasingly becoming more brief.

For most us, imagefamily is what grounds us. It trumps everything, including the work we do to raise and support our family. Even the most conservative and “stingy” employers know it is wise (in the long run) to back off and give an employee some space when a family issue arises. So given that context, how then are we supposed to understand what is going on in Chicago over the past few days with Adam LaRoche and the White Sox?

Even while the story continues to unfold, there are certain things that we know to be true…… And none of them put White Sox management or baseball in general in a good light…………

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PRE-SEASON WISHES

IT WOULD BE A GREAT YEAR FOR BASEBALL IF…….

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***** Giancarlo Stanton stays healthy, plays 155 games, hits 50 home runs, and drives in 130 runs.

***** The American League “Least” turns into the most competitive Division in baseball.

***** Dusty Baker lasts more than 40 games as the manager of the Nationals.

'OK, that's strike two. What is your third wish?'

‘OK, that’s strike two. What is your third wish?’

***** Clayton Kershaw continues to pound the strike zone and wins another Cy Young.

***** Justin Verlander figures out how to be Justin Verlander again.

***** Dr. James Andrews takes a month long vacation in July and no team has a need for his services.

***** The Dodgers figure out what to do with Yasiel Puig – or better yet – Yasiel Puig figures out what to do with Yasiel Puig.

***** David Wright imageproves me wrong that he’s washed up and will never be able to play more than 120 games a season again.

***** Major League Baseball announces that the 2019 All Star Game will be played in Havana, Cuba.

***** Those expensive prime seats at Yankee Stadium remain embarrassingly empty and StubHub wins its war against the richest team in baseball.

*****The people in the Tampa Bay Area realize that it’s a privilege and not a right to have a Major League Baseball team.

WHEN TALENT JUST ISN’T ENOUGH……..

As a workplace, a baseball clubhouse is anything but typical. Save for the manager, there are no offices. Your privacy extends only to the five or so feet between the teammates on either side of you. “Outsiders” in the form of media are a daily and continuing presence both before and after games. You liveimage the six months of a season in a bubble separated from your family half of the time. You have good days and bad days on the field. Your team wins some and they lose some. There are some guys you like and others you despise. You get up every morning knowing that but for the grace of god, a career ending injury could be on the horizon tonight. You have a lot of acquaintances but very few friends. If you are a position player, you fail seven out of every time you come to bat.  You have agents and handlers telling you what you should be doing with your money. You are a big league ballplayer……..but you are also human…………

And because they are human, some ball players can handle it and some cannot………..

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PREDICTIONS……DON’T EVEN BOTHER….

I’m bored already with the endless cascade of so called “predictions ” about the 2016 season even before Spring Training officially begins. Two days ago, for instance, the USA Today crowned the Nationals, Giants, and Boston among others as Division winners. The New York Mets don’t even make the cut for the playoffs.

All of what they predict may turn out to be true, but if we step back and remember that 162 games remain to be played , it does get kind of ridiculous…..no?

What is the use, for example, of predicting anything when injuries play as much a role in a team’s success as home runs and batting averages? And yet, we can expect a continuing barrage of these procrastinations from media who need to fill print and talk radio space…

But here are the questions they should  be asking…… And not answering…..

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THE METS BRING A LEVEL OF SANITY TO FREE AGENCY (CESPEDES)

The deal (yet to be finalized) between the New York Mets and Yoenis Cespedes breaks new ground in the lengthimage and scope of settlements that are reached with “premier” free agents, and depending on how it works out for both sides, it could bring about a trend that returns a level of sanity to long term contracts. If it does, baseball will self correct itself and the only remaining question will be – “Why did it take this long?”

Briefly, the deal is for three years at $75 million. Cespedes will be paid $27.5 million for the 2016 season.images-55
At the end of the season, he can opt out of the contract and become a free agent all over again. Cespedes is not the first to sign with a opt out clause (Zach Grienke, David Price, and Johnny Cueto also have one), but he is certainly the most significant one given all the talk about his other “problems”. With a watered down free agent pool set for 2017, this could be the carrot awaiting Cespedes while the Mets get the benefit of carrying the stick for this year as they work to close the deal on unfinished business and win a championship. After all, who doesn’t like a win-win situation? But hold on……not so fast………

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