Sunday, April 20, 2014

Let me see if I have this correct…

The player nursing a quad injury and who was criticized for playing too hard is now being criticized for lack of hustle by a guy who took a shortcut during his playing career by using PEDs?

If you missed it, this is the offending play that led to Nationals manager Matt Williams benching Bryce Harper for the rest of yesterday’s game against the Cardinals.

Harper’s spot in the order would come up in the bottom of the 9th inning with one out and the tying runs in scoring position. Kevin Frandsen did cash in one of the runs on a fielder’s choice ground out, but the next hitter Jayson Werth struck out to end the game. Afterward, Williams said that it was “a shame for his teammates” that Harper was not available in that situation.

Really?

Maybe, just maybe, it was a shame that Williams chose to discipline a player recovering from an injury for an imagined offense on a meaningless play. Did Harper stand at the plate or walk down the line? No. He jogged dejectedly on a tapper back to the mound.

Yes, a player should always hustle and play with heart, but Matt Williams should know that the MLB regular season is a marathon not a sprint.

And it is just April.

Clearly Nationals manager Matt Williams is a disciple of the Kirk Gibson school of managing. That approach hasn’t worked well in Arizona (MLB worst 5-15 record with 17 errors in 20 games), where Williams was Gibson’s bench coach. It remains to be seen how well it fares in DC though the Nationals have a deeper roster at both the major and minor league levels than the D-backs.

Vine clip from federalbaseball.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Moonlight Lady

Thirty years ago, this song would be go on to peak at 17th on Billboard Magazine’s adult contemporary music chart. At the time, the New York Times called this international entertainer “a new symbol of manliness in an age of androgynous pop stars.”

Before Ricky Martin.

Before Marc Anthony.

Before Enrique.

There was Julio.

The most interesting man in the world.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

YES!!!

This was a goal of mine for this year. I finally did my first muscle up! I was so stunned I had no idea what to do when I got to the top! I had to make sure I could do it, so I did it two more times!

Big thanks to my coaches - Allison, Jimmy, Nicole, Matt - everyone at CrossFit Synapse, who have always been so supportive from the first day I entered the gym, and of course to my lovely wife. This is gonna sound sappy, but I love all of you guys.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Brain Trust

Yesterday, the Pirates announced contract extensions for General Manager Neal Huntington and Manager Clint Hurdle. Per MLBtraderumors, both men are now signed through the 2017 season with club options for 2018.

I like the extension for Hurdle, who last year led the Buccos to their first winning season and playoff appearance in 21 years. He was subsequently named the National League Manager of the Year. Since taking over the helm in 2011, he has managed the Pirates to a 248-243 record.

Meanwhile, since assuming the helm in 2007 Huntington has rebuilt a farm system that was in shambles into Baseball America’s top system for “organizational talent.” Seven Pirates prospects were named to Baseball America’s top 100 list for 2014. He has also made shrewd moves in the free agent market, signing catcher Russell Martin, starting pitcher Francisco Liriano, closer Jason Grilli and former ace AJ Burnett, who has since moved on to the Phillies.

Kyle Stark is still one of his Assistant GMs though. Back in 2012, Stark issued an organization credo to embody qualities of the Hell’s Angels. He also saw fit to subject the Pirates top prospects to rigorous Navy SEAL training, which did lead to a minor knee injury for top pitching prospect Jameson Taillon.

Showing loyalty to one of your top lieutenants is certainly not a fault however. Huntington’s extension seems well earned.

Photo Credits:
Top: Clint Hurdle, by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Bottom: Neal Huntington, by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Hanging ‘Em Up with Style

macdime54:

After playing 15yrs professionally I’m humbled to announce that I’m hanging up my spikes. When one dream ends a new one begins. BIG thanks to everyone that has helped me fulfill my dream of playing in the show#TeamGrinders #TeamDirtDog #54

Outfielder Darnell McDonald, who signed a minor league deal with the Cubs last December, announced his retirement last night on Instagram. The 35-year old former first round draft pick in the 1997 amateur draft (27th overall by the Orioles) finishes with a .250/.314/.397 career slash line, 102 runs, 20HR, 42 doubles, 83 RBI and a 1.4 WAR over seven seasons and 331 games, 234 of those with the Red Sox.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Surprise!

Big thanks to my wife and the coaches at CrossFit Synapse who helped me to a top 100 finish in my region and division of the CrossFit Games Open. Now I “only” have to leapfrog 1035 competitors to get an invitation to next year’s Masters Qualifier.

Monday, March 31, 2014

My Bold Predictions for 2014
National League Edition

If you’re a fan of any of the teams I predict will win, you won’t like my predictions - they’re usually wrong. But as Paul McCartney sings, “Here I go again…”

NL East

  1. Nationals
  2. Braves
  3. Marlins
  4. Mets
  5. Phillies

The Braves fail to make the playoffs because of the onslaught of injuries to their pitching staff and tight budget. Look for newly signed Ervin Santana to be traded before July 31 to a contender. Meanwhile the Nationals under new manager Matt Williams avoid an early season slump and cruise to a division title behind a dominant starting rotation. The Marlins and Mets both make a run at .500 behind their respective young and power-armed rotations. The Marlins fall short due to their anemic offense, but if the Mets are on the fringe of playoff contention they’re more likely to add salary via a mid-season trade. They also have 21-year old pitcher Noah Syndergaard, ranked as the 11th, 16th and 18th best prospect by MLB.com, Baseball America and Fangraphs.com respectively, on schedule to make his major league debut later this summer. As for the Phillies, pity new manager Ryne Sandberg who finally gets a well-deserved shot at managing in the majors only to be saddled with a poorly constructed team with no help on the horizon from the farm system. General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. finally decides to retool by trading ace pitcher Cliff Lee for prospects as the Phillies become fodder for the rest of the NL.

NL Central

  1. Cardinals
  2. Brewers*
  3. Pirates
  4. Reds
  5. Cubs

No surprise here as the Cardinals cruise to the division crown led by four legitimate MVP candidates (Yadier Molina, Matt Holliday, Allen Craig and Matt Carpenter) and a young, deep, flame-throwing pitching staff. Surprise! The Brewers win a wild card as their underrated starting pitchers each post ERAs under 4.00 while making more the 20 starts apiece. Owner Mark Attanasio, who has previously opened the purse strings to add talent and salary mid-season, does so again to help his team over the hump and into the playoffs. The Pirates, on the other hand, sat on their hands this past winter as pitcher AJ Burnett and right-fielder Marlon Byrd left for greener pastures. That’s fine for the bottom line and it also leaves unblocked pathways for the midseason arrival of pitcher Jameson Taillon and right-fielder Gregory Polanco, ranked respectively as the 22nd and 10th best prospects overall in the minors by Baseball America. Unfortunately for Pirates fans though, that fiscal restraint also means a failure to return to the playoffs. As for the Reds, new centerfielder Billy Hamilton may literally run away with the NL Rookie of the Year award, but with a minor league career OBP/SLG of .350/.378 he cannot reasonably be expected to approximate Shin-Shoo Choo’s .423/.462 campaign last year. The Reds struggle to score runs and get off to a slow start which leads to a trade of second baseman Brandon Phillips, who seems very unappreciated by the Cincinnati media, to the Yankees. Meanwhile, the future looks bright for the Cubbies and their fans as team president Theo Epstein finds the next Terry Francona in new manager Rick Renteria, who nurtures a good team chemistry and coaxes his young team toward a surprise run at .500.

NL West

  1. Dodgers
  2. Giants*
  3. Padres
  4. Diamondbacks
  5. Rockies

The Dodgers have the money and a wealth of outfielders to facilitate a trade to address any weaknesses should they get off to a slow start again. Matt Kemp, playing with a slight chip on his shoulder, returns to MVP form and his status as a Dodger fan favorite. But the Yasiel-being-Yasiel act gets old fast, prompting the Dodgers to trade Puig to the Tampa Bay Rays for pitcher David Price, who signs a six-year $150MM contract extension with the Dodgers immediately following the trade. The rotation of Kershaw, Greinke, Price, Ryu and Haren/Beckett pushes the Dodgers to the division title despite lackluster performance at second base and a regression by third baseman Juan Uribe. Meanwhile, further up the California coast Matt Cain returns to Cy Young form while Tim Lincecum is still maddeningly inconsistent. He’s dominant more often than not though, which is just fine for the number four starter in the Giants rotation. A happy and healthy Mike Morse also regains his power stroke in AT&T Park as the Giants earn a wild card berth in the playoffs. The Padres are surprise playoff contenders led by an underrated pitching staff. They’ll opt to keep third baseman Chase Headley to remain on the fringe of playoff contention. Ultimately though, they’ll fall short of the playoffs and Headley will leave next winter after rejecting the Padres qualifying offer. Out in the desert, aside from first baseman Paul Goldschmidt the Diamondbacks play very lackluster ball and struggle to play .500. This leads to the midseason firing of both GM Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson. As for the Rockies, you can’t completely count out a team that has a healthy Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki in the lineup (I said the same thing last year). Michael Cuddyer will continue to flourish in Denver, Justin Morneau will show that he still has something left in the tank, and third baseman Nolan Arenado is a candidate for a breakout season. As always though, it will be the Rockies pitching that will determine their fate.

NL Champions: Cardinals

Their depth, experience and lack of drama bring them back to the World Series for the second consecutive year.

Photo Credits:
Top Left: Allen Craig, photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Top Right: Matt Carpenter, photo by Elsa/Getty Images
Bottom Left: Matt Holliday, photo by Elsa/Getty Images
Bottom Right: Yadier Molina, photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Gotta be the Socks!

To avoid getting psyched out, I don’t like to look at a WoD until just before I do it, or in the case of the Open workouts, when I arrive at CrossFit Synapse to do the workout. I’m particularly glad I didn’t look at this one, because 14.5 looked (and was!) awful!

21 thrusters, 95-lbs
21 burpee bar jumps

18 thrusters, 95-lbs
18 burpee bar jumps

15 thrusters, 95-lbs
15 burpee bar jumps

12 thrusters, 95-lbs
12 burpee bar jumps

9 thrusters, 95-lbs
9 burpee bar jumps

6 thrusters, 95-lbs
6 burpee bar jumps

3 thrusters, 95-lbs
3 burpee bar jumps

25 minute time limit

I didn’t just survive this beast though. I slayed it! I finished in 19 minutes, 37 seconds! I have no idea where that came from, but I am very pleased.

And I am not doing that one again.

Big thanks to my wife and kids for their support, and to Jimmy Lujan, Allison Truscheit and the entire coaching staff at CrossFit Synapse!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Straight a’s

The Yankees have not officially announced their 2014 starting rotation yet. However, with Michael Pineda’s strong spring training performance it looks as though the Yankees rotation will all have names ending in the letter “a.”

CC Sabathia, top left, photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty
Hiroki Kuroda, top right, photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty
Masahiro Tanaka, middle, photo by Mike Carlson/Getty
Ivan Nova, bottom left, photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty
Michael Pineda, bottom right, photo by Leon Halip/Getty

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Rays Rotation

Ladies and gentlemen, per manager Joe Maddon, as of today here is your 2014 Tampa Bay Rays opening day starting rotation.

Photo Credits:
Top Left: Alex Cobb, by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Top Right: Matt Moore, by Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Middle: David Price, by Ronald Martinez
/Getty Images
Bottom Left: Chris Archer, by J. Meric
/Getty Images
Bottom Right: Jake Odorizzi,by Leon Halip
/Getty Images