Posts Tagged ‘NLCS’

Hey there, Chicago!
I relish the opportunity to wax on about the San Francisco Giants here on SportsTimeRadio because simply put, the Giants and your Chicago Cubs are destined to meet in October. At least put it this way, the Giants will be there and I expect you’d back that up with a resounding, “Don’t you worry about our Cubs.”
First off, I’m sorry to see Kyle Schwarber go down especially the way the whole play unfolded. San Francisco lost Hunter Pence the first week of spring training last year and the team never fully recovered. Of course, Pence means much to the soul of the Giants but still, here’s hoping that Schwarber is back on the diamond in the most timely of manners. No team nor its fans wants to get a leg up on another club through injury.
Looking at the Cubs’ complete roster though, with its depth, leaves me to believe that my opening statement is accurate: The Giants and Cubs will compete against one another in the 2016 playoffs. The last time that happened was in 1989, when San Francisco prevailed four games to one, only to lose to the Oakland A’s in the infamous Earthquake Series.
I first appeared on this show in November of 2014, when Dan called to ask about my “Dynasty” piece on the Giants. I had written that three titles in five years, while stellar, did not make a dynasty because the rule of thumb is continuous success over a decade. That’s ten years, not five.
Since then I have appeared every few weeks when there are some lively topics to bat around, not so often when there isn’t much going on. When Pablo Sandoval was in the news only a year ago in December, with all of his palaver about wanting a new challenge in Boston, I was chiming in with my nickel’s worth routinely. I see now that the rotund one is back in the news with his recent disharmony with Boston management.
I feel bad for The Panda because he was so easy to like, but like the tragic hero, he has a flaw. His flaw is not so much the excess weight he carries around, but the fact that he refuses to acknowledge that the weight is the albatross that keeps him so locked into his decline.
For the Giants, of course, it meant that Matt Duffy was able to step right into the slot and not only make fans forget Pablo, but introduce us to “The DuffMan!” Duffy is now in his second season and fits in well with the all home-grown Giants infield.
Most recently, the decision to keep the red-hot Trevor Brown over Andrew Susac as Buster Posey’s back-up behind the dish, has paid off handsomely. The UCLA grad from Newhall, California has produced an early line of .385/1.154/1.538; in thirteen at-bats, the rookie has five hits, three of them big flies. 
The Giants like Posey’s offensive numbers much more when he is playing first, but they also like those three world series rings that Posey has delivered. Buster wasn’t playing first base when his three-time underdog Giants beat some pretty impressive American League powers to acquire their three rings.
I imagine there are Cubs fans who are keeping an eye on Jeff Samardzija for a variety of reasons. Though The Shark may have worn out his welcome in the home town, he has been embraced by the Giants, who have a reputation for rolling out the red carpet for new arrivals. It doesn’t hurt that Samardzija will be pitching half his games at AT&T Park, with one of the best pitching coaches in the game in Dave Righetti.
The Cubs have been ranked number one amongst MLB’s elite since the first preseason power polls were released. Nothing has occurred to change that. The Giants have hovered somewhere in the middle of the top-ten so far.
I imagine both teams are exactly where they would like to be. I know the Giants relish being the underdog and it still amazes/amuses me that they frequently get so little respect. 
Respect is a commodity that must be earned and the Giants have three recent titles in their resume that assures me they have the necessary credentials. Recent success does not guarantee continued success, but it is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. 
See you next time.
Mark 

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Wait til next year

Posted: October 22, 2015 by Sports Time Radio in baseball, post season
Tags: , , , ,

The Chicago Cubs 2015 season came to and end last night (Wednesday) as they where swept out of the national League Championship Series by the New York Mets 8-3 at Wrigley Field. The Mets will move on to represent the National League in the World Series. They’ll play the winner of the Kansas City Royals/Toronto Blue Jays series. Kansas City currently leads that best of 7 series 3 games to 2. Game 6 is tomorrow (Friday) night in Kansas City.

On the Sports Time Radio podcast I was pushing very hard for Jon Lester to take the Game 4 start on 3 days rest for the Cubs against the Mets, but for some reason I seemed to be the only guy who was bang the drum for Lester to start. Jason Hammel had been the listed starter for the game, but I really thought Lester would be the better choice even on short rest. Being that it was an elimination game I thought the Cubs would want one of there Top.2 starters on the mound and since you’re not going to bring Jake Arrieta back on just 2 days rest Lester seemed like the next best choice. The Cubs didn’t listen and Hammel took the start. Sadly with Hammel on the mound the game was over before the Cubs even came to bat. Lucas Duda gave the Mets the early lead as he hit a 2-out, 3-run home run in the Top if the 1st inning. Travis d’Arnaud went back to back with Duda and his solo shot gave the Mets all the runs they would need on the night. Hammel by the way lasted 4 outs. In Hammel’s 1 1/3rd innings he was charged with 5 runs; all earned on 4 hits (2 home runs), he walked 2 and struck out 1. Do you honestly think that Lester on 3 days rest wouldn’t of had a better outing; honestly? The Cubs over used bullpen did a solid job after Hammel was removed giving up 3 runs over the 7 2/3rd innings they where asked to cover. Travis wood gave up 1 run on his 1 2/3rd innings as the first guy out of the bullpen and Fernando Rodney gave up the other 2 runs to the Mets when he pitched the his inning. Clayton Richard (2 Innings), Trevor Cahill (1 inning), Pedro Strop (1 inning) and Hector Rondon (1 inning) weren’t scored upon out of the Cubs bullpen. 24 year old Steven Matz made the Game 4 start for the Mets and while he only lasted 4 2/3rd innings he was able to relax right out of the gate as he was giving a 4-run lead before he ever had to take the mound and then 2 more runs where added to that before the Cubs batted a 2nd time. In a bit of an odd twist; Matz was almost dealt to the Cubs for Starlin Castro during spring training, but the Mets changed there mind on the trade. Matz gave up 1 run on 4 hits while striking out 4 and walking 2. Bartolo Colon relieved Matz in the bottom of the 4th inning and was credited with the win. Colon went 1 1/3rd innings; he gave up 0 runs while walking 1 and striking out 1. Addison Reed was next out of the Mets bullpen; he struck out 1 in his 1 inning of work. Tyler Clippard pitched the 8th inning for the Mets giving up the Cubs final 2 runs of the season on a Kris Bryant home run. Clippard gave up 2 hits, walked 1 and struck out 1 as well in his inning of work. I was a little surprised to see Mets closer Jeurys Familia come in to pitch the bottom pf the 9th. It was an 8-3 game and normally closers don’t do well in these type of situations. Familia didn’t have any issues. He got the first 2 hitters to ground out and after a walk to Miguel Montero; Dexter Fowler struck out looking to end the Cubs season and send the Mets into the World Series for the first time since 2000.

You always figure that fans will make some type of an excuse for there favorite team losing or maybe that’s just me when my favorite team loses. I was a little surprised last night to here some of the Chicago media making excuses for the Cubs losing the series. As tough as it is for Cubs fans to take the Mets where just the better tam in this series. The Mets played better defense, out-hit, out-pitched and Terry Collins out-managed Joe Maddon in the series. Even though the Cubs won all 7 regular season games against the Mets this was a different Mets team and that showed. Neither of these teams where expected to be here this season. The Mets weren’t suppose to be able to win there division because the Washington Nationals where going to take it. The Cubs where suppose to be a year away from contending for a playoff spot, but managed to get that 2nd wild card. These teams should be interesting for baseball fans to watch as the Mets have very good young pitching and the Cubs have very good young hitting, but right now I want to look at the Cubs since the Mets still have a series left to play.

Every team makes change in the off season and expect the Cubs to do a little tweeking here and there. Dexter Fowler is a free agent and I’m guessing the Cubs will allow him to leave unless he’s willing to take a short term deal for very low money to stay. While Chris Coghlan had a solid season and showed surprising power with 16 home runs; I don;t think he’s an everyday player for the Cubs next season. Coghlan is also a free agent, but could be a valuable utility player on a contender. If Fowler and Coghlan are out of the Cubs starting line up next season Miguel Montero will be the oldest everyday player at 32, but besides Montero no other regular will be older than 26. The playoffs proved that you can;t win without starting pitching and the Cubs will need more than Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester. It would be difficult for Arrieta to repeat the kind of season he had this year; so someone will have to help out in the rotation. There are a couple of quality free agent starting pitchers who will be on the market, but I’m not sure if the Cubs will hand on another big money long term deal to a pitcher again. Maybe the Cubs target a young free agent starting pitcher like Mike Leake (29) or Jordan Zimmerman (31) instead of going after the top tier free agent pitchers. Of course the other way for the Cubs to add pitching is through trades. I expect that one of the regulars will be dealt for some young starting pitcher. If you’re going to take a guess I’d say Starlin Castro would be the guy traded and the Cubs would use a platoon with Tommy LaStella and another veteran; maybe Coghlan at 2nd base. As much as you get attached to the players on your favorite team little changes here and there are needed to continue to improve the team; so we’ll see what the Cubs roster looks like come 2016.

How was your Week?

Posted: October 17, 2015 by Sports Time Radio in baseball, fantasy, football
Tags: , , , ,

Week 6 in the NFL started with a loss for Dan the Man, Schaumburg Stu, Mr. Fantasy and I as we all had the Atlanta Falcons to beat the New Orleans Saints 31-21 on Thursday night football. The Saints knocked the Falcons out of the undefeated ranks and we’ll all go into Sunday at 0-1.

A match up like this always looks good to fantasy owners; so hopefully you had your Saints and Falcons in your line ups. Drew Brees went 30 of 39 for 312 yards and 1 touchdown. Matt Ryan was 30 of 44 for 295 yards ans 2 touchdown. If sacks are a negative in our league Ryan was sacked 5 times for 32 yards. Brees did run 2 times for 2 yards and Ryan had 4 carries for 10 yards and while it’s not huge rushing yards they weren’t in the negatives. Ryan did fumble the football 3 times on the night, but only lost 1 of them.

On the ground Mark Ingram carried the football 20 times for the Saints, but only picked up 46 yards. Luckily for Ingram owners he scored 2 touchdowns.Ingram did add 3 catches for 10 yards. If you’re using a secondary Saints running back they weren’t much help for you. Khiry Robinson had 7 carries for 23 yards while C.J. Spiller had 3 carries for 10 yards. Robinson also had 2 catches for 24 yards and Spiller added 4 catches for 17 yards, but neither player scored. Devonta Freeman continued to run the ball well for the Falcons. He only ran the football 13 times, but got to 100 yards even and scored a touchdown. Freeman also caught more passes (8) than any other Falcons on Thursday night for 56 yards and added a receiving touchdowns as well. Even in a losing effort Freeman put up a 2 touchdown night for his fantasy owners. Tevin Coleman returned from injury to run the football 4 times for the Falcons gaining 40 yards, but he did fumble 1 time.

Tigh  and t End Benjamin Watson was the big target for Brees in the New Orleans passing game as he caught 10 balls for 127 yards and 1 touchdown. Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks each had 4 catches; Snead went for 55 yards while Cooks had 41 receiving yards..The Saints other tight end Josh Hill also had 3 catches for 38 yards. While Freeman led Atlanta with his 8 catches Julio Jones led the team in yardage with  93 on 6 receptions. Leonard Hankerson seems to be the Falcons #2 wide receiver now had 4 catches for 37 yards. Tight end Jacob Tamme had 3 catches for 32 yards, but it was Roddy White who had the Falcons other touchdown catch. White had a total of 3 receptions for 23 yards, but had that touchdown catch. If you’re in a deep league or you have to start a fullback Patrick DiMarco had 2 catches for 18 and if you’re in a league where you have to start two tight ends Levine Toilolo had 2 catches for 18 yards as well. Nick Williams (11 yards) and Terron Ward (7 yards) each had 1 reception in the game for Atlanta.

The Saints kicking game struggled in this game as Zach Hocker made just 1 of 3 field goals he attempted on the night, but he did all 4 of his extra points. Atlanta’s kicker Matt Ryan had a pretty quite night for his fantasy owners as he just had 3 extra points in the game.

If your league scores for defense Dannell Ellerbe led the Saints in tackles with 14 and recovered a fumble. Cameron Jordan had 6 tackles, 3 sacks and recovered a fumble. Hau’oli Kikaha and Kasim Edebali each had a sack for New Orleans and Brandon Browner had the other fumble recovery for New Orleans. Paul Worrilow was the Falcons team leader in tackles with 9 and Adrian Clayborn had the Falcons lone sack on the night.

The ALCS kicked off last night with the Kansas City Royals beating the Toronto Blue Jays 5-0. Edinson Volquez was the Royals Game 1 starter and he pitched 6 innings giving up 2 hits and while he did walk four betters he struck out 5. Kelvin Herrera was the first pitcher out of the Kansas City bullpen pitching 1 inning and striking out 2. He was followed by  Ryan Madson who gave up a hit and a walk in the 1 inning he pitched. Luke Hochevar finished the game off for the Royals pitching the 9th. Marco Estrada got the start for the Blue Jays and he pitched 5 1/3rd innings giving up 3 runs on 6 hits while striking out 6. Alex Gordon led off the bottom of the 3rd with a double off Estrada. After a strikeout Alcides Escobar doubled to right field to score Gordon. A ground out moved Escobar to 3rd base where a single by Lorenzo Cain drove him home to give Kansas City a 2-0 lead. Estrada struck out the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the 4th, but with 2 outs Salvador Perez its a solo home run to left field giving the Royals a 3-0 lead. Aaron Loup relieved Estrada in the bottom of the 6th and got the final 2 outs of the inning. Mark Lowe worked the bottom of the 7th for the Blue Jays. Lowe struck out 1 batter in his inning of work. LaTroy Hawkins took over on the mound in the bottom of the 8th inning for Toronto. Hawkins hit Escobar to start the inning. Ben Zobrist followed that with an infield single moving Escobar to 2nd. After a fly out for the 1st out of the inning Eric Hosmer doubled to right field scoring Escobar and moving Zobrist to 3rd. Kendrys Morales hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Zobrist with the Royals final run of the night.

I’m not sure Game 1 played out anywhere close to how people thought it would. I’m not sure that anyone had the Blue Jays being shutout. Toronto only managed 3 hits on the night; all singles. One each by Josh Donaldson, Chris Colabello and Ryan Goins; Jose Bautista was 0 for 1 on the night, but did walk 3 times. Kansas City ended up with 8 hits on the night, but Escobar was the only Royal with more than 1 hit.

Game 2 of the ALCS is this afternoon. The Blue Jays are going with David Price on the mound while Kansas City is starting Yordano Ventura. Price has pitched 10 innings this post season; 1 start and 1 relief appearance. He’s given up 8 runs on 11 hits while walking 2 and striking out 7; his post season ERA is 7.20. Ventura has made 2 starts this post season, but it only covers 7 innings. He’s giving up 6 runs on 8 hits while walking 4 and striking out 10; his post season ERA is 7.71. Pitching may not be the key to Game 2; it may be the injury to Toronto’s DH Edwin Encarnacion. Encarnacion suffered a ligament sprain to his left middle finger in Friday night’s 5-0 loss. Encarnacion is listed as day-to-day for the Blue Jays. If Encarnacion can’t go today look for Justin Smoak to take his place in the Toronto line up. Smoak had a .226 batting average with 18 home runs and 59 RBI this season.

The NLCS kicks off tonight in New York. Jon Lester gets the Game 1 start for the Chicago Cubs while Matt Harvey will start for the New York Mets. Lester’s last start was 7 days ago against the St. Louis Cardinals. Lester went 7 1/3rd against St. Louis and it happened to be the only game the Cubs lost to the cardinals in that series. Harvey’s last start was a 5 inning outing against the Los Angeles Dodgers 5 days ago where he got the win. Who needs a Game 1 win more; the Cubs or the Mets?

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