It’s the last weekend of the regular season. Tedious as the final games can be, I already miss baseball. Playoff baseball is on the horizon but, just beyond that, lays the vast wasteland of a baseball-free winter. That, my friends, scares me. Let us drink in this final full slate of games and revel in the greatness that is a walkoff celebration among go-nowhere also-rans and pennant contenders alike.
Before the bullet points come fast and furious I will indulge in another Friday tradition: the social media dumping ground. Make sure to follow Parkes, myself, Travis Reitsma, Sam Miller, The Common Man, Bill TPA, and even Stoeten on Twitter. Like the Getting Blanked facebook page for, uhh, good times and subscribe to the Podcast feed (iTunes/RSS).
- Justin Upton is Strong
- Bring Your Big Guns to War
- Braves Must Tackle Jesus of the Beltway
- Matt Kemp’s Assault on the Record Book of Yesteryear
Not only is Upton strong enough to single-handedly carry the Diamondbacks into the playoffs, he is strong enough to hit broken bat home runs.
The D’Backs magic number is a scant 1 ahead of their “big” series with the Giants. Giants are all out of losses this season, the Diamondbacks need only keep their rotation intact for the start of the postseason.
With the Red Sox season hanging in the balance, they send their ace Jon Lester to the mound against Freddy Garcia and the Yankees. The Yanks are home and cooled, they will try to get some much-needed rest for some of their aging stars.
The Sox, meanwhile, need all the wins they can get as the barbarians pound on the gates. With David Price starting for the Rays against the Jays (a.k.a. guaranteed win night at the Trop) Lester must bring his A game to keep the Rays from creeping even closer in the Wild Card race.
Because the rotation after Lester is pretty unpleasant for Sox fans. Tim Wakefield and John Lackey are scheduled to start at Yankee Stadium for games two and three of this series. If Lester can’t, at the very least, give his team a chance to win; this weekend might just end in tears for New Englanders.
Eager as I am to portend doom for the St Louis Cardinals, the Braves are hardly a sure thing to maintain their tenuous grip on the NL Wild Card. The Cards final three games of the season are in Houston against the Astros, proud owners of 102 losses already. The Braves don’t get a free pass as they must face Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals before hosting the coasting Phillies.
Confronting Strasjesus is only one game of six but a loss tonight, coupled with a Cardinals victory, means the lead is just a single game. The Phillies might be in full-scale shutdown but they’re still sending the same rotation out there regularly. Cliff Lee tentatively gets the first start of the penultimate regular season series between the two rivals. Do any Braves want that game to be a must-win?
Reputations can be hard to shake for professional athletes. Once the pre-determined narrative takes hold, look out. Fans and pundits see only the evidence that feeds the ideas they already have. Of course, these biases are subject to performance at all times.
When Yunel Esocbar slumped briefly in June (amid injury concerns, mind you) the “Yunel doesn’t hustle” whispers started up in Toronto. The body language questioned, the lack of desire noted. Once Escobar was standing on first base after another single or well-drawn walk day after day, the whispers stopped. All the character concerns about Edwin Encarnacion dried up as soon as his power stroke returned. The doubles gave way to home runs and now he’s the starting DH for 2012.
Colby Rasmus mumbles out a few choice words to John Lott of the National Post and, thanks to his very much not-good tenure as a member of the Blue Jays, now he’s a pariah once again. As Stoeten said at Drunk Jays Fans, John Lott isn’t the type of reporter to go out looking to bury Rasmus and make him look silly. Rasmus just chose his words, words outside the usual mindless boilerplate, poorly.
Does this justify Tony LaRussa’s lack of belief in Rasmus and the subsequent trade for fifty cents on the dollar? Is Rasmus doomed to a life of indifferent mediocrity? Doubtful.
Work ethic is a skill like any other. Just as players improve their plate coverage or defensive footwork, they can improve their off-season training. If Rasmus claims to not pick up a bat and work during the winter because of fatigue, fair enough. Nobody can dispute him so long as he produces. Another down season or another year feeling tired by year’s end, maybe the connection between off-season work and in-season success gets made in the collective Rasmus hivemind. Or maybe not. Fun to watch, either way.
Some might think winning the Triple Crown in this day and age is akin to winning a fancy new rotary phone from Radio Shack. Matt Kemp is putting together an amazzzzzzzSorry. Can’t do it. Matt Kemp is great but I’d much rather listen to Earl Weaver go HAM on a game umpire. The video quality isn’t great but the sound quality is tits. Which is to say, probably NSFW.