The baseball season is only a couple of weeks old and while it’s my favorite sport there are a couple of trends that have bothered me even this early in the season. The first one is hitting a power type of guy in the 2nd spot in the batting order. I understand that in the new sabermetric era of baseball the stolen base doesn’t mean as much and strike outs don’t mean anything at all. Now I’m not saying you need a 100 stolen base a year guy at the top of your batting order like Lou Brock, Rickey Henderson and Maury Wills were, but you at least need a little bit of a speed threat at the top. Now it’s tough to get your running game going when the guy behind him in the batting order is a low contact high strikeout guy. You also wouldn’t want to get a guy thrown out at 2nd base when the guy in the batters box could get you 2 runs with one swing of the bat. Growing up watching baseball the 2nd hitter in your line up was always a guy who could handle the bat. He could hit with 2 strikes on him and would take pitches to see if the runner in front of him could steal a base. If a bunt was needed to move the runner over he could do that or he could hit behind the base runner if needed. Not to mention that he would be one of if not the best defensive player on your team. Do these type of baseball players still exist? and could they help a team win games? I can understand a team like the Cincinnati Reds putting Joey Votto in the two-hole. While he’ll hit his share of home runs, he’ll take pitches, he makes contact and doesn’t strikeout a lot. Now teams like the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs are going with higher strikeout guys in the 2nd spot of their batting order. With Jose Altuve coming off of a career year in 2014 you’d think the Astros would like a guy hitting behind him who could give him a chance to steal a base or get himself in scoring position another way. It’s George Springer who’s hitting 2nd in the Astros batting order. In 10 games this season Springer is hitting .135 with 16 strikeouts and is tied for the most strikeouts. The Cubs have Dexter Fowler in the lead off spot and while he’s not a big stolen base guy he can easily get to 30 steals a season. Jorge Soler has been hitting behind Fowler quite a bit early in the season and while his batting average is good (.294) he’s struck out 11 time in 9 games. I’ve heard the reasoning of getting the guy a few extra at bats, but wouldn’t it be more important to score runs and win games over getting extra at bats for a guy. The other trend that is driving me crazy this season is hitting the pitcher in the 8th spot. There are pretty much only two reason this happens. The first one is because your manager has no confidence at all in your starting pitcher and he wants him a spot up in the batting order so he can get him out of the game an inning earlier. The second reason would be because your manager is looking for cheap attention from the media. There are always questions for a manager when the pitcher isn’t hitting 9th and the only one who can answer them is the manager; so he gets the media attention he’s looking for. Even this early in the season I’ve seen this come back to hurt teams, Now if there are runner on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs they would probably walk the 8th place hitter to get to the pitchers spot anyway, but on a couple of occasions the pitcher has come up with the bases loaded and 2 outs. If this was an actual 8th place hitter there would be a chance for the team to score some runs, but with the pitcher up; he’s as close to an automatic out as there is in baseball. There are 3 pitchers with 3 hits so far this season, but would you rather have them at the plate or your regular 8th place hitter. Here’s hoping these teams wake up and stop trying to re-invent baseball and concentrate more on putting there teams in better positions to win.
The NBA playoffs get started this afternoon with the 1st of 4 games on the schedule today. The Washington Wizards and the Toronto Raptors kick things off today. They are followed by the New Orleans Pelicans against the Golden State Warriors. The 3rd game on the schedule today is the Milwaukee Bucks against the Chicago Bulls and the night wraps up with the Dallas Mavericks against the Houston Rockets. The other 8 playoff teams get started on Sunday and their schedule looks like this. It’s the Boston Celtics vs. The Cleveland Cavaliers to start the day. That game is followed by the Brooklyn Nets taking on the Atlanta Hawks. The 3rd game on Sunday is the Portland Trailblazers vs. The Memphis Grizzlies and the final game is the San Antonio Spurs against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Now I saw the odds that Las Vegas has put up on who will win the NBA title and they didn’t give the best odds to either of the #1 seeds in the conferences. It’s the Cavaliers who open as the 9 to 4 favorite to win the title. The Warriors are 2nd at 5-2 with the defending champion Spurs next at 4-1. The team with the best record in the Eastern conference Atlanta is 12-1 while the Bulls, Clippers and Rockets are all 14-1 odds. The Grizzlies are 25-1 odds while the Raptors and Trailblazers are 50-1 odds and the Mavericks and Wizards landing at 60-1 odds. If you like a long shot how about the Pelicans at 100-1 or at 200-1 you can have the Bucks, Celtics or Nets to win it all. So with the betting odds posted I figured I’d get Dan the Man and Schaumburg Stu along with myself to make our picks on who will win. Here’s what we came up with. Dan the Man has both of the #1 seeds going to the finals; so it’s Atlanta and Golden State for Dan with Golden State winning. Schaumburg Stu went with Cleveland out of the East and Golden State out of the West with Golden State winning the title. I like the Cavaliers to get to the finals out of the East and the Spurs to get to the finals out of the West with the Spurs repeating as NBA champions. Who do you have?
You can follow me on Twitter @Burketime
Listen to Sports Time Radio on http://www.BlogTalkRadio.com