Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

Revisiting My Terrible 2014 Cubs’ “Award” Winner Predictions

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

My apologies for being gone from posting for about a month. Unfortunately, my oldest son was dealing with a set of not very serious but very annoying and time consuming (from the parental perspective) maladies that resulted in my writing time evaporating. With that taken care of, though, we now return to your regularly scheduled analytics-based programming.

Early in the season, I made a host of predictions regarding which Cubs would win a host of awards. Well, a host of fictional awards. And man, were my predictions terrible. Of my 7 predictions, I was right on only one: Least Valuable Cub. On the “good fictional awards” front, here’s the short version: Anthony Rizzo and Jake Arrieta were really, really good in 2014.

Most Valuable Player
Opening Day Guess: Starlin Castro (SS)
End of Season Winner
: Anthony Rizzo (1B)

This actually wasn’t a horrible guess, as Castro was the Cubs’ second most valuable every day player according to both fWAR and rWAR despite missing the last month of the season due to an ankle injury. And my reasoning was solid. If Castro rebounded following his poor 2013 campaign, Rizzo needed to become an elite hitter to be more valuable than Castro. Of course, Rizzo went ahead and became an elite hitter, posting a 5.3 fWAR, tied with Miguel Cabrera and Jose Abreu for the best in baseball among first basemen.

Cy Young
Opening Day Guess: Jeff Samardzija (SP)
End of Season Winner: Jake Arrieta (SP)

I guessed that Samardzija would not be traded this season, and was clearly wrong on that front, as Samardzija was no longer a Cub by the time Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum got finished with those aliens. Yes, that was a terrible Independence Day joke. Also, like everyone in baseball not affiliated with the Cubs’ organization, I did not see Jake Arrieta’s emergence. On a start for start basis, Arrieta was as good as any pitcher in the National League not named Clayton Kershaw, and was the Cubs’ best pitcher by a country mile. Arrieta very likely would have been the winner here even if Samardzija was not traded.

Rookie of the Year
Opening Day Guess: Mike Olt (3B)
End of Season Winner: Tie between Neil Ramirez (RP) and Kyle Hendricks
(SP)

Olt was awful at the MLB level, striking out in nearly 39% of his plate appearances and batting just .160. At age 26, the odds of him having a meaningful MLB career are slim to none at this point. Ramirez came up and put up a phenomenal year out of the pen, showing both the ability to tally strikeouts and limit walks. Hendricks exceeded expectations after coming up, pitching to a 2.46 ERA over 13 starts and undoubtedly earning a spot on the 2015 Opening Day starting rotation. Jorge Soler earns an honorable mention for his solid debut in right field, but was only up for a month.

First Player Traded
Opening Day Guess: Nate Schierholtz (RF)
Actual: Samardzija and Jason Hammel (SP)

Schierholtz was terrible this season, and the Cubs eventually designated him for assignment and released him. The Cubs’ first trade of the season ended up being their biggest: Starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland A’s for their top two prospects, Addison Russell (who is a Top 10 prospect in all of baseball) and Billy McKinney, as well as starting pitcher Dan Straily.

Least Valuable Player
Opening Day Guess: Junior Lake (OF)
End of Season “Winner”: Lake

Hey, one I was right on! FanGraphs had three players as equally terrible for the Cubs at -0.9 fWAR (Ryan Kalish, Schierholtz and John Baker), but Baseball-Reference breaks the tie by having Lake at -1.4 rWAR, besting (or is worsting the right word?) the other Cubs by -0.3 WAR. Lake remains an interesting physical talent with terrible baseball skills. I’d still like to see the Cubs try to convert his cannon of an arm to the mound, where he could be a late innings reliever fairly quickly with any semblance of control.

Player Who Will Look Most Improved Despite Changing Nothing
Opening Day Guess: Edwin Jackson (SP)
End of Season Winner: Luis Valbuena (3B)

Jackson would have been the worst starting pitcher in baseball by ERA had he thrown enough innings to be eligible for the ERA title, but he just missed that one. While I stand by my argument that in 2013 Jackson’s issues were bad luck as much as anything else, in 2014 he was just terrible with his walk rate climbing and his ground ball rate tanking. Valbuena did most of the same things at the plate this season that he did in 2013: walked, hit for a modest amount of pop, struck out around a league average or slightly better amount. Yet his OPS climbed 68 points this season. What was the difference? In 2013, Valbuena’s BABIP was .233; this season, it was .294.

Most Actually Improved Player
Opening Day Guess: Welington Castillo (C)
End of Season Winners: Rizzo and Arrieta

Looking back on this, Castillo may have been my worst prediction at the start of the season. His solid offensive batting average and on base percentage in 2013 were propped up by a .347 BABIP (of all people, I should be looking for a BABIP regression), and the hope that Castillo would improve his pitch framing abilities was solely that, a hope. Reports are that Castillo’s pitch framing remains below average, and his BABIP dropping to .288 was the primary cause of a 60 point drop in his OPS from 2013 to 2014. As discussed above, Rizzo emerged as one of the best hitters in the National League and Arrieta emerged as one of baseball’s best starting pitchers, clearly being the most improved players on the team. According to fWAR, Rizzo was worth 3.6 more wins in 2014 than he was in 2013, and Arrieta was worth 4.8 more wins. In other words, Rizzo and Arrieta were the reason the Cubs won 7 more games this season than they did last season. If you throw Castro in that mix, you could argue that those three players are the reason the Cubs didn’t lose 100 games again.

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Playoffs Set, Jeter Finishes Career & More!

Monday, September 29th, 2014

It feels like just yesterday I was writing this article to recap the first week of the season, but somehow we’ve already reached the end of the regular season road. This week was one of the most action-packed, emotion-filled weeks of the year, so let’s get right to it!

Jeter Calls It A Career

If you’ve been under a rock for this whole year, you may have missed that Derek Jeter decided this season would be his last. After trotting around from stadium to stadium, receiving gifts and showings of respect, Jeter has finally reached the end of the line.

This storybook career had an ending that couldn’t have been better even if you scripted it. In Jeter’s last at bat in New York, the town that he has spent half of his life in, he hit a walk-off single to help the team down the division leading Baltimore Orioles.

If you weren’t a fan of Jeter this week may have been a tough one to handle. Clips of his highlights were being displayed endlessly, drawing responses from both sides of the argument. In my opinion the attention was warranted given his standing in the game and everything that he has done over the course of his career, but I can definitely see how it would get tiring.

With his retirement, the Yankees lose not only their captain, but also a top-50 all-time player and one of the ten best players in their team’s history. The impact that he has left on the Yankees is simply irreplaceable and he’ll be remembered for generations beyond this one. Where do you rank Jeter all-time amongst position players? Shortstops?

Playoff Matchups Are Set

Normally by the last week in the season all of the playoff matchups are set, but that obviously was not the case in this chaotic MLB year. Two of the division winners, the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals, didn’t lock up their playoff seed until the last possible day.

Starting in Detroit, the Tigers had stumbled through two games with the Minnesota Twins, which allowed the Kansas City Royals some life. The Tigers desperately needed to come out on top Sunday, and they did on the back of ace David Price (it still feels weird to type that).

Over in Arizona, the Cardinals needed a win against the Diamondbacks in order to kill the Pittsburgh Pirates chances of taking home the division crown. With a 1-0 win, the team captured the top spot in the division for the second year in a row.

With these games coming to their conclusions that they did, it now sets up the Los Angeles Angels to play the winner of the Royals/Oakland Athletics play-in game and the Orioles to play the Tigers. On the National League side, the Nationals will face off with the San Francisco Giants/Pirates winner and the Los Angeles Dodgers will take on the Cardinals.

After seeing how the pieces have fallen and looking at the matchups, I think it will be the Tigers taking on the Angels in the ALCS, with the Nationals taking on the Dodgers in the NLCS. From there, I’ll take the Tigers and Dodgers to square off in the World Series with the Tigers eventually coming out on top. Who are you taking to win the World Series?

Zimmermann No-Hits Marlins

The Washington Nationals, already riding high having clinched the top spot in the National League, have even more reason to be thinking that they can make a deep run in this year’s postseason.

In the team’s final game of the season, Jordan Zimmermann (who has been one of the team’s most consistent pitchers over the last two seasons), tossed his first career no-hitter against the Miami Marlins.

The 104-pitch, 10-strikeout affair was almost tainted with one out to go in the ninth inning. Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich came to the plate and lined a hit into the left-center field gap. It looked like a hit that typically drops for extra bases, but left fielder Steven Souza, a defensive replacement, made a gorgeous diving catch and preserved history.

This no-hitter was undoubtedly one of the biggest moments of Zimmermann’s now 5-year career and it goes to show the unbelievable depth that the Nationals have behind Stephen Strasburg in the starting rotation. Do the Nationals have the best rotation out of the playoff teams?

This Week’s MVP: Andrew McCutchen (.429/.567/.810, 2 HR, 8 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Jordan Zimmermann (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 10 K, No-Hitter)

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Cubs Done on WGN? Can Games Get Shorter? Who Cares!!!

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

1. Could the Cubs Be Done on WGN? - There still hasn’t been an announcement as to what will happen to the half of games that aren’t on CSN next year and to be honest, should we really care. MLB is available via so many mediums that I really don’t see how local tv deals continue to net such a high price tag. I used to be bummed that I wasn’t in Chicago anymore because it meant I could only see Cubs games on WGN. Now with MLB Extra Innings and MLB.tv, I could care less if any games are on WGN anymore. Put them on Oxygen for all I care. I’ll still watching on my MLB.tv app on my iPad. It doesn’t matter to me.

2. MLB has formed a pace of game committee – This is another one I file under the “I don’t care file”. There is nothing that can be done to reduce the time of game so drastically that a casual fan would be more invested without dramatically changing the game. You would have to shorten the game to six or seven innings to package it in a 2 – 2.5 hour slot to net the fan base you’re targeting. You’re not going to get a casual fan because you shave off 10 minutes. Frankly, I’d be OK if the season shortened and the games were shortened. I could care less about the record book. I value my time and I love baseball. I want those to merge.

3. “Jake Arrieta better bet for long-term success than Kyle Hendricks – Hey, no kidding. Thanks for that outstanding journalism. And we wonder why newspapers are dying.

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AL Central Battle, Ron Washington Update & More!

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Somehow we’ve almost reached the MLB Postseason. It’s been a long ride to get here and there’s still quite a bit of entertaining baseball yet to be played. Let’s get caught up with the biggest headlines from this past week.

Battle For AL Central Crown In Kansas City

Going into the season, the American League Central division wasn’t expected to be a closely contested race. The Detroit Tigers possessed one of the highest payrolls in the league, and they were expected to steamroll their competition. Unfortunately for them, games aren’t decided on paper.

The Tigers have struggled through large chunks of this season, due to both bullpen issues and occasional no-shows by their offense. With them faltering at times, the Kansas City Royals have capitalized. Kansas City, a team who hasn’t seen the playoffs in nearly 30 years, is now within striking distance.

This weekend, the two teams squared off in a three-game series that will have drastic implications for who ends up on top. The Tigers won the opening game on Friday and snuck by on Saturday due to a base-running error by catcher Salvador Perez. They picked up the win on Sunday, but that game that they lost in the overall series could come back to haunt them.

In the end, I think it will be the Tigers that wind up coming out on top of the division. They have had long stretches of poor play, but it seems as if they’re finally playing up to the level they should have been at the whole season. The impending return of Anibal Sanchez should help, as well. Who do you think ends up taking the AL Central?

Washington Explains Resignation

In one of the weirder managerial moves in recent memory, long-tenured Texas Rangers skipper Ron Washington stepped down a couple of weeks ago amidst one of the worst seasons in team history. Management stated it had nothing to do with the team’s record, so many people were left wondering.

The details of his resignation have finally come out following a press conference this week, but it appears that there will be much more to the story that Washington told. According to Washington, he was unfaithful to his wife and he felt that he needed to get his personal life in order.

With a little deeper digging, you can see that Washington hired two crisis management firms prior to his holding of the press conference. Many considered it an odd move and it has drawn questions regarding the truth of his initial story.

This whole situation has felt odd to me from the start and I can nearly guarantee that there is more to this story than what has currently been released. I wouldn’t go as far as to agree with the Texas beat writer that rumored he will be involved in a sexual assault case, but I feel like it does go deeper than just him being unfaithful to his wife. What are your thoughts on this situation?

Stroman Suspended 5 Games

One of the most promising rookie pitchers in the game will be forced to miss a start, after the league offices ruled that he intentionally threw at a batter. Marcus Stroman of the Toronto Blue Jays was certainly not agreeable with the ruling, but it seems as if it was justified.

For a little context, Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes had his hand stepped on by Baltimore Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph in a play at the plate in Monday’s game between the two teams. In response, Stroman threw a pitch over the Joseph’s head when he came to the plate.

The league originally suspended Stroman for 6 games, but dropped the ban down to 5 following an appeal. He adamantly stated that the pitch just got away from him, but that’s essentially meaningless, as almost any pitcher would say the exact same thing.

I’m all for defending your teammates, but I think Stroman is pushing a fine line here. He regularly sits in the mid-90’s with his fastball and who knows what would happen if he hit Joseph in the head with that. There’s absolutely no reason to throw above a guy’s shoulders in any situation. I’m completely fine with the 5-game suspension the MLB leveled against him. What are your thoughts on Stroman’s suspension? Should it have been longer?

This Week’s MVP: Wilin Rosario (.706/.706/1.176, 2 HR, 9 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Andrew Cashner (2-0, 1.06 ERA, 14 K)

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Joe Answers the Questions You Asked

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

So sorry it’s taken me a few days to get answers to your burning questions. The fact is, if your questions are burning, you may want to seek a doctor. I think there is a cream they can give you to help with that. Now, on to the answers. (Note: I didn’t choose ALL of the questions as due to my laziness there were too many. Also, I just thought some were boring.)

Jedi asks:

What’s the difference between a random thought and a question?

I tend to equate random thoughts to things that just pop into my mind. They don’t really require an answer and often times have little purpose to them at all. However a question is much more important. Then again, when you’re dealing with kids, and God knows we are, they seem one and the same and they seem to come in abundance.

Dork (Is it OK if I call you that?) asks:

What will the cubs record be in 2015?

I went on record when we were recording our podcast (before MLB advanced media decided to do what MLB advanced media does), that I felt the Cubs would finish .500 this season. Obviously that didn’t happen, partly due to a dreadful start to the season, but I still feel like it was a realistic goal for this team. For next season, I see know reason why .500 shouldn’t be the expectation with a goal being the playoffs. Call me crazy, but with a good amount of our prized prospects expected to be making an impact next year at the Major League level, why shouldn’t we expect .500. Everywhere you read, people say 2016 is the year the Cubs will contend for the playoffs and be a really good team. Why can’t it be 2015? I expect good things next year. So, to answer your question, I will say 82-80.

Dan Gilman asks:

What are the chances the Cubs trade Castro this off-season?

I don’t think they are high. If the Cubs deal a shortstop, I believe it makes sense to engage in talks with the Mets given the surplus of young, Major League ready arms they have in their system and the fact that they crave a building block shortstop. However, I’ve heard a lot of people say they don’t really like Starlin Castro. I can understand. It’s hard to like a guy who has almost 1,000 hits and been a three time all star before the age of 25. I don’t see why people are so quick to dismiss him. Does he have his flaws? Of course, but what player doesn’t. Show me a player under 25 that doesn’t have one. They just don’t exist. He’s learning and this year he’s taken a major step forward. If I’m Theo and Jed, I value him the highest among the three top guys in this system right now.

Ben asks:

Who do you think will be called up next year to the majors besides Kris Bryant and the others who have already been called up  like Soler and Alcantara?

The biggest name to watch for next year is obviously Addison Russell, but I also have my eye on someone like C.J. Edwards or Dallas Beeler. I don’t think we saw enough of Beeler this year and I’d like to see more.

Doug S. asks:

Ginger, Maryann or Mrs. Howell?

Mary Anne.

Jswanson asks:

Rank the following Doritos, from tastiest to least tasty:
* Cool Ranch
* Nacho Cheese
* Tapatio
* Taco
* Spicier Nacho
* Salsa Verde
* Spicy Sweet Chili

Unfortunately, we do not keep snacks like that in the house (and yet I’m still fat). That said, I’ve only had two of those so I am going to rank based on what I would assume they would taste time.

1. Nacho Cheese

Tie for last – All the others. To be honest, I hate cool ranch flavor and the others sound like death. I’m not a Doritos guy.

Brian asks:

If the Cubs were to trade one of their significant offensive pieces (Rizzo, Castro, or any of the other guys whom I won’t mention because you already know who they are) for pitching, who do you want it to be and, if different, who do you think it will be?

I’ve gone on record that I believe it will be Baez. I used to think that Jorge Soler had the biggest bust potential. Now I believe it may be Baez. I shop him and see what his value can net. Thankfully, power hitting is a valuable and sparse currency these days.

CAPS asks:

What’s your favorite thing to batch cook and do you like to cook shirtless?

You really are a unique dude, you know that? Don’t cook, and especially not shirtless. They don’t make hair nets for my chest.

That will do it for this edition. Sorry again for the time it took. Thanks for being patient. Enjoy the last two series of the season. How about we finish it out with a six game win streak?

 

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Pitchers with the Best and Worst Run Support

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Thankfully, the baseball community has moved beyond judging pitchers solely by their won-lost record. Last season, Clayton Kershaw took home the NL Cy Young despite having three fewer wins than Adam Wainwright. More famously, Felix Hernandez won the AL Cy Young in 2010 with just a 13-12 record. However, those were extreme cases where pitchers had major advantages in other measures of pitching performance, notably ERA. Since Hernandez’s Cy Young, the AL wins leader has won the Cy Young three consecutive seasons. Wins clearly remain a factor in many people’s evaluations.

Of course, pitchers who perform well tend to earn more wins than those who do not, but there are still inputs to those wins that are out of the pitchers’ control. The primary factor is run support, which Baseball Info Solutions calculates as the number of runs an offense scores while a pitcher is in the game prorated over nine innings. In 2010, the Mariners scored just 3.10 runs per nine in Hernandez’s starts, which was the second lowest total among qualified starters. That’s 3.03 runs fewer than the Yankees scored for C.C. Sabathia (a 21-game winner) per nine that season!

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the pitchers in 2014 who have seen the best and worst run support. First, here are the starters with the best run support this season:

Best Run Support, 2014
Player Average Run Support
C.J. Wilson, Angels 6.55
Jorge de la Rosa, Rockies 6.31
Colby Lewis, Rangers 5.97
Wei-Yin Chen, Orioles 5.96
Madison Bumgarner, Giants 5.87

C.J. Wilson leads the way with an average of 6.55 runs of support per start. The Angels actually lead baseball with 744 runs this season, so they were the best bet to have a pitcher at the top of the list. Teammate Jered Weaver just missed the top five with 5.80 runs of support per nine.

Like Wilson, Jorge de la Rosa benefits from an offense that scores a lot of runs. In his case, it’s the Rockies, who have the third most runs in baseball with 700. In contrast, Colby Lewis is a surprise. The Rangers are 20th in runs scored, so Lewis actually received much more run support than the average Rangers’ starter. But Lewis has been unable to take advantage of his good fortune. With a 5.12 ERA, which is not far below his 5.97 runs of support per nine, Lewis has compiled a 10-13 record.

Wei-Yin Chen and Madison Bumgarner don’t often need their exceptional run support. Chen has the 10th lowest walk rate among qualified starters this season (1.66 walks per nine), and Bumgarner has the 12th highest strikeout rate (9.17 strikeouts per nine). That has led them to a 3.58 and 2.91 ERA, respectively. Unsurprisingly, they are tied for sixth and tied for third in baseball in wins.

Here are the starters with the worst run support:

Worst Run Support, 2014
Player Average Run Support
Nathan Eovaldi, Marlins 2.89
Eric Stults, Padres 3.04
Francisco Liriano, Pirates 3.09
Alex Wood, Braves 3.16
Yovani Gallardo, Brewers 3.29

Nathan Eovaldi of the Marlins sets the low bar with 2.89 runs of support per nine. That seems to be a bit of an outlier since the Marlins are middle of the pack with 613 runs scored. They do not hold a candle to the Padres in that respect, however. The Padres have scored just 489 runs this season. That is 255 runs fewer than the league-leading Angels and 61 runs fewer than the Braves, who are second to last. With such an anemic offense, Padres’ starters are prominent at or near the bottom of the list. Eric Stults has had the second lowest run support, and Ian Kennedy just missed the list with 3.36 runs per nine.

The Braves may be substantially better on offense than the Padres, but Alex Wood and Julio Teheran have not benefited from that. Wood has the fourth lowest run support with 3.16 runs per start, and Teheran is in the bottom 12, as well.

Francisco Liriano and Yovani Gallardo are the opposite of Colby Lewis. The Pirates have the 8th most runs and the Brewers have the 13th most runs in baseball this season, but both pitchers are in the bottom five in run support per nine. Charlie Morton (3.72 run support per nine) of the Pirates is the only other qualified Pirates or Brewers starter with less than 4.00 runs per nine of support.

“Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com.”

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GirlieView (09/18/2014)

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

GirlieView Definitions

  • Lizzie = A funny, timely quote made on the VFTB site by our writers or commenters.
  • Lizard = The best Lizzie.
  • MVL = Most Valuable Lizzie’er: The person with the most Lizzies in the period under review (usually the past two weeks.)
  • Top 10 of the 2014 Season = The folks with the most aggregate Lizzie points YTD (1 point for every Lizzie, 3 points for every Lizard.)

As you already know, this is all completely subjective and according to my whims.

Lizzies

  • [The record keeping replay] is when a manager feels Dork has made an incorrect entry into his spreadsheet, and requests an external audit.
  • I take exception to this – There are no errors in my spreadsheets
  • I think on every overturned call, the umpiring crew should drop and do 20 push-ups. This would create peer pressure among the umpires to get it right the first time, and also help with the umpires’ collective fitness regimen.
  • I think the manager who gets the overturned call should be able to choose from a whole repertoire of exercises for the ump. This would add much entertainment to the game.
  • They should be able to get out of the physical challenge by either drinking a cup of “mystery juice” from the training room, or by reciting correctly Pi to 27 digits.
  • I hope this humbles the umpires, they were always so arrogant in arguments prior to replay. I am surprised the over turn rate is so high, I thought it would be much lower, i.e. I thought the umpires were better than this.
  • I am surprised as well. If I was wrong 50% of the time at my job, I would not have a job. But you would, because the old “blind ump” adage now applies. They all need their eyes checked – or maybe the high error rate is because you are checking their eyes.
  • Moderately trained chimps could call most of these correctly and still have time to make eyeglasses for the masses.
  • I miss the 5-minute display of two out-of-shape old guys cussing each other out in front of 30,000 people. They’ve taken a part of the game away from me.
  • Good point Jedi and I do give umpires discounts on eye exams and 30% off MSRP on all sunglasses to anyone who wants them. Maui Jim, Von Zipper, Persol, Zeal, Gucci, Ray Ban, Michael Kors and more. Just let me know the model you want.
  • Looks like Joe replaced the Prom Dress ad with a Sunglass ad. Those ads apparently do not cost much.
  • Is it an ad for the Sunglasses Hut by the Quiznos in Huntington? I think that is Doc’s office.
  • You will get more wear out of the sunglasses than your prom dress.
  • Carlos Zambrano has retired which most of you probably know. Can he still pitch? “I don’t think so,” said Zambrano, who has retired from the big leagues. “I think I can hit. I was telling one of the [Cubs] scouts that I was playing catch the other day after five months, and I felt like I was throwing a rock. I think I’m going to stay home, see what happens next year. God has the last word.” Then he slugged the Cubs scout in the nose and busted up a gatorade cooler just for old laughs.
  • From home games to road games, the tentative 2015 Chicago Cubs regular season schedule has it all.
  • From day games to night games, this tentative schedule has it all.
  • No matter what, he will always have great stories to tell his grandkids
  • Paid to play. Incredible regardless. As a bonus, [Olt] might be able to play ball in Japan and potentially get to see Matt Murton naked.
  • I do believe he’s been mentioned in the same sentence as those other former Cub sit-com players. I don’t know if I’d tell my grandkids I saw Matt Murton naked though. Might seem a little weird to them.
  • You’d have to slide it into conversation like it was no big deal.
  • Sort of like Joe did?
  • Olt needs to perfect the triangle mouth. That is the key to future success.
  • Mark, my hat’s off to you for enduring those 3 tough results.
  • Well I was just happy to see the Cubs in person as it’s been a few years since I had. In spite of the lopsided scores I stayed to the very end of each game.
  • We are only 13 out of the wild card!
  • Joe, what’s the difference between a random thought and a question? Don’t thoughts usually end with a period to indicate their completeness while questions end with a question mark? And isn’t randomness involved where questions aren’t related, rather than a series of questions about a particular sport – like say, baseball? Wouldn’t 3 baseball questions be categorized as a homogeneous group, thus rendering them the opposite of random unless of course they were asked on a cooking blog? Does grouping questions together mean that ultimately you’ve asked merely a single question? For instance, have I just asked one question here? Or 7? And if I numbered & grouped them, would that change your answer? Either that’s question 1, or 8, or possibly anything in between; but I will complete my thought(s) at this point.
  • I’m considering legal action against hotels.com for their unpermitted and egregious use of my former moniker in their lame advertisements. Can you recommend a good intellectual property attorney?
  • What does it profit a man, O wise one, to fill his brain with Cub facts and statistics?
  • What… is the air-speed velocity of an unladen African swallow?
  • Ginger, Maryann or Mrs. Howell?
  • Who first said “It is what it is” and were they talking about the Cubs?
  • Rank the following Doritos, from tastiest to least tasty:
    * Cool Ranch
    * Nacho Cheese
    * Tapatio
    * Taco
    * Spicier Nacho
    * Salsa Verde
    * Spicy Sweet Chili
  • can I get an unlimited supply in each finger?
  • Joe are you out there?
  • Here’s my question. I’d like to know what you think ab
  • Will somebody send 911 to Sherm’s house. He’s had a stroke mid- thought.
  • I’m fine, but the wife sends her thanks for the hunky paramedic, and I’m sure he appreciated all her one dollar bills. I think they were ones. I quit watching after his pants came off.
  • Joe, Do you think your violation of the Sherm Rule is sort of like God coveting his neighbor? Where did you go?
  • Maybe Joe got to CAPS’ first comment and stuck the business end of a shotgun in his mouth?
  • I completely misunderstood the premise of this thread. I thought if we asked Joe anything, he would answer the questions.
  • Maybe Joe’s watching Gilligan’s Island reruns to figure out the answer to a tough question.
  • In his defense, he actually doesn’t promise to answer the questions himself.

Lizard

  • There is a paucity of triangle-mouths left in these parts.

Shout Outs

  • No one submitted their first 2014 in-season Lizzie this time around so let’s just shout out for everyone, especially for keeping us entertained while we’re bored! Thanks for being here!

MVL

  • Congratulations to jswanson, our Most Valuable Lizzie-er this time!! You rock!!

Top 10 of the 2014 Season (one point for each Lizzie, three points for the Lizard)

1. jswanson
2. Doc Raker
3. Seymour Butts
4. Eddie Von White
5. Joe Aiello
6. Doug S.
7. Dork
8. Chuck
9. Mark From Toronto
9. Sean Powell

Chit Chat

Who makes the playoffs?

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Ask Joe Anything

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

That’s right, it’s time for everyone’s favorite game, Ask Joe Anything. I’m also looking for a nomination from you on which writer we should use for the next edition. Remember the rules.

1. The CAPS rule – Do not blow up the comments with a zillion questions by one person.

2. The Seymour rule – Try to keep it semi-clean knowing that if it’s too far past the line it won’t get answered.

3. The Sherm Rule – Don’t post something and then disappear. Come back and see the answer.

Follow those rules and we’ll have a lot of fun. Just to give you an idea on quirky questions, see one of the editions of the Deadspin Funbag and you’ll know what I mean.

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Stanton Suffers Devastating Injury, Davis Suspended and More!

Monday, September 15th, 2014

After a week spent traveling across the country and back, I’ve returned with another week’s worth of MLB news! Unfortunately, we aren’t going to be able to start off on a good note for this week.

Stanton, Headley Both Hit In Face With Pitches

Just like in any sport, injuries are just a part of the game. Even with that being known, however, it didn’t’ make seeing the pitches hitting Giancarlo Stanton and Chase Headley any easier to watch.

In the Miami Marlins game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Stanton stepped to the plate against Michael Fiers. Fiers wound up and threw a fastball that ended up connecting right on the left side of Stanton’s face, which caused him to crumple up the ground. Blood covered the area around him and he had to be stretched out of the stadium.

A short time after, Chase Headley of the New York Yankees was drilled by an errant pitch in his face, as well. Luckily for him, he didn’t suffer nearly injuries nearly as severe as Stanton and he was able to walk off under his own power.

It was saddening to see one of the game’s brightest stars dropped in an incident like this, and you have to wonder how he’ll be able to bounce back. The mental impact that this will have on both him and Fiers is going to be tough to overcome, and you have to hope that it doesn’t derail his incredibly promising career. Do you think this will impact Stanton’s career beyond the fact that he’ll miss the rest of this season?

Davis Suspended For 25 Games

In one of the most surprising stories of the 2013 season, journeyman first baseman Chris Davis exploded for 53 home runs and gave the Baltimore Orioles a legitimate power threat in the middle of their lineup. Though the team is going to make the playoffs this year, it appears they’ll be without Davis for the stretch run.

It wasn’t an injury that took him out of the lineup, but rather a 25-game ban issued by the MLB for reportedly using amphetamines. According to Davis, he used Adderall and didn’t have the Therapeutic Use Exemption that he had last season.

Whether he was rejected or didn’t apply for it is still not clear yet, but what’s obvious is that this was a big error in judgment for Davis. After his power outburst last season he had to know that people would be keeping a close eye on him, yet he still decided to go ahead and use Adderall anyways.

While the loss of 25 games is certainly big, the potential lost earnings for Davis could be even bigger. It was reported that he and the Orioles were in the midst of negotiating a new contact, with the latest offer sitting around 5-years, $70 million. This suspension could take a big hit out of that overall monetary value. Should Adderall be banned by the MLB? Also, what do you think is Davis’ value on the open market?

Bochy Family Makes History

Over the course of Major League Baseball history, there have been a few father/son combinations that have played together and even more brothers that have played at the same time. This past week, there was a family combination that was the first the MLB has ever seen.

In a blowout against the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy made the call to bring in a reliever. This call to the pen was different than any other he had ever made in his life, as the reliever he was bringing into the game was his son, Brett.

Brett, who was drafted by the team in 2010, wound up allowing 2 runs over the 1.1 innings that he pitched (an improvement over the rest of the team, who wound up allowing 15 over the other 7.2 innings). He was a September call-up for the team and he’s looking to earn a spot on the team beyond this month.

You could see the joy on Bruce’s face as he handed the ball off and it was truly a great moment for everyone involved. While the result of the game was certainly not what they had hoped for, it will go down as a moment that no one in the Bochy family will ever forget. What is your favorite “family moment” in baseball history?

This Week’s MVP: Howie Kendrick (.500/.531/.800, 2 HR, 10 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Shelby Miller (2-0, 0.69 ERA, 9 K)

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