At every baseball game I attend I am looking to see something I have never seen before. Sometimes that’s not such an easy task.
Last night, it was a no-brainer.
If you follow sports at all, and baseball in particular, you’ve already heard Max Scherzer, the Washington Nationals’ $210 million dollar — for seven years — pitcher, struck out 20 batters in nine innings, to become only the fourth pitcher in MLB history to accomplish that task (Roger Clemens did it twice, Randy Johnson and Kerry Wood did it once each).
I suspect the Nationals were pleased to fork over the million dollars ($30 million a year divided by 30 starts) for that performance. Scherzer had been having a not-too-good year prior to last night as his ERA going into the game against Detroit was 4.60 and his won-loss record was 3-2.
It was an evening I will not forget, especially since I am putting in writing what I saw. When Scherzer struck out his 17th batter, I turned to a fellow Nats’ fan, Don, and said, “I once saw Pedro Martinez strike out 17 at Fenway years ago.” (However, when I tried to confirm that Pedro had indeed done that, I couldn’t find it in the records, although Pedro did strike out 17 Yankees once in Yankee Stadium.)
So much for the accuracy of my memory.
Anyway, here are some of the highlights from last night:
1st Inning: After getting the first batter to pop out, Scherzer strikes out the next two batters, including his friend Miguel Cabrera. Total: two strikeouts.
2nd Inning: Scherzer gives up a single to Victor Martinez and then strikes out the next three batters. Total: five strikeouts.
(Note: I mentioned to Don that Scherzer had already struck out five of the six batters he faced. But most fans didn’t seem to focus on that yet as they were carefully watching former Nats’ beloved pitcher Jordan Zimmermann return to Nationals’ Park for the first time since he left the team this past winter. He got an enthusiastic standing ovation/reception and was even ‘forced’ to step out of the batter’s box to acknowledge the well-earned applause and appreciation for what he accomplished while he was with the Nats.)
3rd Inning: Jose Inglesias, not one of the Tigers’ better hitters, leads off the inning with a first pitch home run that just got over the left field wall. Scherzer then strikes out the next three batters. Total: eight strikeouts.
4th Inning: One strikeout, one ground out, and one fly out to right. Total: nine Ks.
5th Inning: Two strikeouts and a fly out: Total: 11 Ks.
6th Inning: Ground out and two strikeouts: Total: 13 Ks.
7th Inning: Cabrera strikes out again, but then Victor Martinez singles and Justin Upton doubles. Men on second and third. Only one out. Score at this point, Nats 2, Tigers 1. Scherzer strikes out the next two batters to get out of the inning and preserve the lead. Total: 15 Ks.
(Note: Up to this point, Jordan Zimmermann and Scherzer were in a terrific pitchers’ duel, despite all of Scherzer’s strikeouts. Now with the Tigers threatening, Scherzer was at his best, ‘easily’ putting away James McCann and Justin Upton. In the bottom of the 7th, Danny Espinoza adds an insurance run with a home run off Jordan Zimmermann to make the score 3-1.)
8th Inning: Scherzer strikes out the side. Total: 18 Ks.
9th Inning: Lead off home run for J.D. Martinez. Score goes to 3-2. Cabrera strikes out for the third time on a 97 mph fastball before Victor Martinez singles and goes 3-4 on the night. Scherzer then gets Upton to strikeout swinging and ties the record for most strike outs in a nine-inning game. Two outs and James McCann up with Scherzer, the rest of the Nats, and the 35,695 fans cheering for him to break the record. After a first pitch strike, McCann weakly grounds out third to first. Total: 20 Strikeouts.
(Note: Far from being disappointed, Scherzer pumps his fist and grins so every one of the 35,695 fans can see how pumped up he was and excited to beat his old team and get back on track, dropping his ERA from 4.60 to 4.15. Overlooked in the excitement of Scherzer’s terrific game was Zimmermann’s good performance, giving up three runs and seven hits over seven innings, dropping his ERA from 1.10 to 1.5, still far ahead of Scherzer for the season. Basically, Zim made one mistake, the home run pitch to Espinoza, which allowed the Nats to win 3-2.)
And a few other things of note:
**In his complete game outing, Scherzer threw an amazing 96 strikes out of his 119 pitches (80.6%) — significantly better than the other three pitchers who also have struck out 20 and a MLB record. Also, no walks and six hits over his nine innings.
**Eighteen of Scherzer’s 20 strikeouts were swinging strikeouts. Kinsler, J.D. Martinez, Cabrera, McCann, and Gose all struck out three times. Victor Martinez got three hits and was the only Tiger batter who did not strike out.
**Scherzer had first strike pitches to 24 of the 33 batters he faced, a 72.3% rate.
**Scherzer now has defeated all 30 MLB teams. John Lackey is the only other active player to do that.
**Despite having Jonathan Papelbon warming up for the 9th inning, Nats’ manager Dusty Baker chose to stick with Scherzer in the 9th, even after he gave up a lead off home run, making the score close to 3-2. It’s doubtful Baker could’ve gotten Scherzer off the mound and out of the game in the 9th, at least not without the fans (and Scherzer) going bersek.
**Baker’s moving Daniel Murphy to batting forth and dropping Ryan Zimmerman to fifth paid off as Murphy drove in two of the Nats’ three runs, and would have had a third RBI if Harper had not been thrown out, on review, on an attempted steal. Murphy is now hitting .409 and no doubt better protects Harper from being walked than Zimmerman was able to do.
**Jason Werth’s batting average dropped to .196 as he went 0-4 and left five men on base.
**Dusty Baker who has played in 2,039 games and managed 3,210, said, “That’s the best pitching performance I’ve seen in person” — quite a complement for someone who has participated in a total of 5,249 games, witnessed numerous other games in addition, and is one of baseball’s most astute observers of the game.
For those of you who were not privileged to be at the game, did not see it on TV, or watch any of the replay, you can see in a third of a minute, what Scherzer did. (Please bear with the 12 second ad at the beginning of the video below):
Oh. And why the “I Owe It All to My Grandson” headline of today’s blog?
I went to the game with the expressed purpose of getting the MVP Byrce Harper Bobblehead giveaway for my seven-year old grandson.
Otherwise, I doubt I would have had the great pleasure of attending and witnessing Max Scherzer’s wonderful performance last night.
What really matters in determining how well a baseball team is performing?
Isn’t pitching supposed to trump (excuse me) hitting?
Didn’t the Sox spend gazillions of dollars to beef up their starting pitching and their relief pitching?
And aren’t strikeouts important?
So it’s only 22 games into the 162 game season, but a few things pop out if you follow the Sox:
- Their record is 12-10 which has them in second place in the AL East, 1.5 games behind the surprising Orioles.
- They are next to last in ERA (4.43), giving up 103 runs (98 earned), only Houston is worse in these pitching categories.
- They have struck out the most hitters in the AL, 223, but have also given up the most walks, 88.
- They only have six saves.
- They have the highest hitting average in their league (.278), the most hits (218), the most doubles (63), the most triples (7), and the most RBIs (107).
- Most important in this area is they lead the league in runs with 114, 18 more than the second place Tigers and 19 more than the Orioles.
- So maybe their record of fewest home runs so far, 17 vs the Orioles 33, isn’t hurting their run scoring.
- Their fielding has been pretty good as they are near the top of the league with a FPCT of .987 and only 10 errors.
- Their record in stealing bases tops the league, 20 (out of 22 attempts), and they’ve thrown out six of nine stolen base attempts.
It sure seems that hitting is trumping pitching, at least so far as the Red Sox are concerned in the early going of this season.
Actually, the most interesting thing about the season so far for me is something that Joe Posnanski, one of my favorite sports’ writers has highlighted — teams are striking out almost one out of every four times they are at the plate, the highest rate in the history of baseball, and, he writes, that’s not a bad thing.
Teams seem to believe, he says, “Hit the long ball. Steal bases at a high percentage. Draw walks. That’s still the winning formula.”
Strike outs overrated?
See Posnanski’s article Teams Are Striking Out More and That’s Not a Bad Thing.
Sometimes it’s a particularly good day for Sox and Nats fans…and not so good for Yankee and Orioles’ fans.
Sunday was one of those days.
We were at a Nats’ afternoon game that was mostly without excitement for the first eight or nine innings. Strasburg pitched well, except for one pitch (isn’t that often the case for pitchers?) where, although he struck out 10 batters over 7.1 innings, he gave up a three-run homer that broke up a tie game and put the Nats in a 4-1 hole.
Mostly the game was a pitchers’ duel (I enjoy those, but my wife, a fair weather fan — she only goes to games if the weather is fair — prefers more ‘action’). Then the Nats scored two in the 8th to come within one run of tying the game. In the 9th, boy wonder Bryce Harper, who was being given a day of rest (really necessary for a youngster like him?), pinch hit and of course slammed one out of the park to deepest center.
We had to leave the park for grandparent duties but listened on the radio (still a wonderful way to follow baseball if the announcers are good) and later followed the action on our smart phones. The game went 16 innings before a mostly unknown player, Chris Heisey, who had replaced Harper after the 9th, hit a game ending home run, almost six hours after the 1:35 PM game had started.
As if that wasn’t enough baseball for one day, after we got home, I checked in on the Sox who were playing a Sunday night game. And that was almost a repeat of what happened with the Nats, tho the Sox game only went 12 innings and lasted a mere five hours.
The Sox were ahead 5-1, then 5-3, which they held from the end of the third until the bottom of the 9th, when their new, expensive, and highly touted closer, Craig Kimbrel, got two outs before giving up a double and then a home run.
Another tie game.
More extra innings.
Finally, in the bottom of the 12th, Sox back up catcher Ryan Hannigan had a 13-pitch at bat/walk before Jackie Bradley drove in Hanley Ramirez for the Sox lead. (Hannigan scored an insurance run when he then made it home on a wild pitch.) Sox used an unheralded reliever, Heath Hembree, and held in the bottom of the 12.th
Now it was just after 1 AM (I had moved from the bedroom to the study around midnight in order not to cause my fair weather wife any more loss of sleep and to preserve what was left of my marriage), and I was a bit hyped up. So of course I checked in on the Evil Empire Yankees and was pleased to see they had lost 8-1 and were now in last place. Plus, although A-Rod drove in the Yunkee’s one lowly run, he was now hitting a mere .148.
Then I checked on the current AL East surprise league leaders, the Orioles, and was delighted to see they had lost to the Royals, 6-1.
All in all, about 12+ hours of baseball, and all good.
Some days are simply better than others for obsessed baseball fans.
Photo Illustration by Richard Roberts
I’ve never been too fascinated by golf and have often used the snarky quote, “It spoils a good walk,” to express my view of this ‘sport.’ (Mark Twain is quoted to have said, “Golf is a good walk spoiled,” although that quote apparently precedes Twain.)
But I have always been interested in the best players in any sport and will read about or even attend events other than baseball to see the likes of a Michael Jordan, Andre Agassi, Pele, etc.
Tiger Woods fits (or once did) into that category of best ever, and when he seemed to self destruct a few years ago, I wondered what the ‘back’ story was, why someone of his great abilities could fall so precipitously.
A long article I read several days ago about Tiger Woods — The Secret History of Tiger Woods by Wright Thompson — gives some insight that I had not previously had to this fallen, ‘best ever’ athlete.
Check it out: The Secret History of Tiger Woods, by Wright Thompson, ESPN, 4/21/16.
What do you think?
Of course there are many more than two things that baseball fans need to remember when watching the greatest game ever invented.
But, taking a ‘page’ from Art Buchwald’s wise reprinting each year of his le Jour de Merci Donnant, I want to remind those of you who pay attention to more than just the home runs and final score of games about two articles I have posted in the past:
And since I have your attention, once more let me remind you:
Don’t forget to get in your 2016 Baseball Contest Picks. Deadline is approaching One Week away as I type this.
I know most of you who have not sent in your predictions yet are simply waiting for Spring Training to be over so you’ll have all the information you need to make wise, judicious decisions. None of you, I’m sure, are procrastinators.
(Your next reminder will be a personal email from me with a few choice remarks.)
(Also, for those who may have missed it, this year, at the urging of several of you, I have made and posted my predictions for these Baseball Contests. I’m not eligible for any of the prizes, which is probably not an issue once you see my picks.)
Below you’ll find a series of Washington Nationals’ dates and games available, either to join me or to get two seats to a game I cannot attend.
If you join me, your seat is free, but you’ll probably have to listen to my baseball chatter and maybe even buy me a bag of peanuts.
If it’s a game I can’t attend, then if you agree to take a kid (broadly defined) for one of the two seats, then both seats are free.
If the two seats are for two adults, then you can reimburse me at my cost, $55 per seat.
The seats are good ones, either in Section 127, between home and first behind the Nats’ dugout, 20 rows off the field or in Section 117, four rows behind the visitors dugout.
Let me know (Samesty84@gmail.com) as soon as you can what game(s) you are interested in attending (the more choices you give me the better). I will try to fit everyone in. If nothing works out for these games, I’ll have another set of offerings (later in the season) with a number of seats for July, August, and September.
Update: Opening Day – Thursday, April 7, 4:05 PM – One Ticket, without me Sunday, April 10, 1:35 vs Marlins. Two seats. (I can’t attend). Wednesday, April 13, 7:05 vs Braves. One seat with me. Thursday, April 14, 4:05 vs Braves. One seat with me. Friday, April 22, 7:05 vs Twins. Two seats. (I can’t attend. Passover.) Sunday, April 24, 1:35 vs Twins. One seat with me. Wednesday, April 27, 7:05 vs Phillies. One seat with me Tuesday, May 10, 7:05 vs Tigers. One seat with me. Wednesday, May 11, 7:05 vs Tigers. One seat with me. Sunday, May 15, 1:35 vs Marlins. Two seats. (I can’t attend.) Tuesday, May 24, 7:05 vs Mets. One seat with me. Tuesday, June 28, 7:05 vs Mets. One seat with me. Sunday, July 3, 1:35 vs Reds. Two seats. (I can’t attend.) Sunday, July 17, 1:35 vs Pirates. Two seats. (I can’t attend.)
If there’s another/different game anytime in the season you have interest in that’s not listed here, let me know as I can possibly trade some parking passes with a friend to get that game and to go with you if I’m in town.
PS – Don’t forget to get in your 2016 Baseball Contest Picks. Deadline is approaching (see below). Submissions will not have any effect on getting one of the above games.
(Also, for those who may have missed it, this year, at the urging of several of you, I have made and posted my predictions for these Baseball Contests. I’m not eligible for any of the prizes, which is probably not an issue once you see my picks.)
I avoided doing this ever since I began the MillersTime Baseball Contests for fear of showing my ignorance. But several of you have said I should stop hiding and show my baseball knowledge, or lack thereof.
Don’t take any of these predictions too seriously, and certainly, don’t be foolish enough to repeat them in your own 2016 predictions.
Speaking of which, we’re only about two weeks away from Opening Day and the deadline for your own submissions. Get to it.
Of course, I am not eligible for any of the prizes, but in the unlikely event that any of my own predictions would have won, I will send a MillersTime Winner T-Shirt to the next two contestants who send in their predictions following the posting of my predictions (March 15, 6 PM).
Contest #1: Predictions about a favorite team:
A. The 2016 Red Sox win-lose record – 88-74.
B. They will make the playoffs and lose in the ALDS.
C. The positive factors for their season will be outfield defense and bullpen efficiency. Starting pitching, although better than 2015, won’t get them to 90 wins.
Contest #2: Prediction about something in the 2016 MLB season:
No MLB player will play in all 162 games.
A. The top 10 MLB players’ Batting Average will be .319, lower than the .322 in 2105.
B. The top 10 MLB players’ OPS Average will be .924, lower than .931 in 2015.
C. The top 10 MLB pitchers’ Earned Run Average will be 2.33, lower than 2.38 in 2015.
D. The top ten MLB pitchers will win a total of 188 games, higher than 183 games in 2015.
A. Two teams with a combined won/loss record closest to .500 – Philles & Cubbies.
B. Team with the most won/loss improvement – White Sox,
C. Pitcher with most relief wins – Mark Melancon will edge out Craig Kimbrel and Trevor Rosenthal.
Contest #5. Who will get the most AL & NL All Star Votes:
AL – David Ortiz and NL – Giancarlo Stanton who will edge out Bryce Harper.
Contest #6. What 10 teams make it into the playoffs, which two to the WS and who wins it all?
AL – Kansas City, Houston, Chicago, Boston, Toronto
NL – Chicago, San Francisco, St. Louis, NYM, Arizona
Cubbies beat Royals
Extra Credit: Make up a question for the 2016 season and answer it:
Last year the total number of stolen bases in the MLB was 2,505. Will that number increase, stay the same, or decrease? What will that number be?
Decrease – 2,412.
Respectfully submitted on The Ides of March, 2016 at 6:00 PM.
To see all contest details, go to 2016 MillersTime Baseball Contests
…to get them started.
(Turn up the sound on your computer and click on the headline below; you won’t be sorry.)
Actually, on further reflection, I guess sometimes it may be too early to start the grand kid’s education. As can be seen in the photo below, when Grandpapa attempted to introduce three-day old Samantha Lauren to the importance of pitching over hitting, she slept through the entire lesson.
Now, before you get all upset and consider calling Child Protective Services, know that I did something similar with my own daughters. And read what the mother of our newest grandchild wrote when she herself was 21 in 2004 (when the Sox won the World Series for the first time since 1918):
I guess it started with Mike Greenwell. And Roger Clemens. And Wade Boggs. Two of three of whom went on to serve the evil empire in their quest for baseball domination. Not an auspicious beginning, I’ll admit. I’d come down for breakfast to study the previous nights scores because I knew I’d probably be quizzed on the box score on my way to school. It was my father’s fault. Some would call it indoctrination; hell, it’s probably a form of propaganda. But I didn’t care. I just wanted them to win. And sometimes I’d watch them win; sometimes I’d watch them lose. As long as they played, it didn’t really seem to matter to me.
But I soon realized that by virtue of being a Sox fan I’d have to accept heartache. And not just in an “oh our team sucks every year” kind of way, but in “oh our team is so close every year” kind of way. Trust me — it’s a lot easier to finish 15 games out of 1st place than watch Aaron Boone clock one of the left field wall.
It’s hoping you never have to say “next year”.
It’s not being comfortable with a six-run lead in the 7th inning.
It’s knowing that bullpen by committee was dead from the start.
It’s knowing when vintage Pedro comes to pitch, he will fuck you up.
It’s knowing that the most contentious issue in your parents’ relationship is the fact that your father listens to the game full blast in the study late at night.
It’s checking bostondirtdogs.com every day in the off-season.
Being a Sox fan prepared me for disappointment; it taught me that there are some things that no matter how badly you want something, sometimes you just can’t make it happen. I think my perspective on life has truly been shaped by the virtue of my fanaticism for baseball. It’s taught me that life isn’t fair, you don’t get what you want, and other people can just be downright heartless.
So this year, can I finally rejoice in our successes? (And I say “our” because I feel as though I’ve truly deserved a spot on the roster). Yes, but I couldn’t do so without a little acknowledgement to my father. It would not be an exaggeration to say I owe it to my father. I mean I blamed him for the heartache for all the years right, so if I don’t give credit now, I probably never will. If it weren’t for him, I’d probably be like every other girl, trying to figure out the difference between a curve ball and a change up. Or not be the kind of girl who gets into arguments with strangers on the 4 train about why Jason Varitek is a better catcher than Jorge Posada. I’m glad they won it for me, but deep down I’m glad they won it for him.
More than anything, my father taught me to believe. And not just in the Red Sox, but in myself. Because if my team can come back from down 0-3 to the Yankees, and sweep the Cardinals in the World Series, really, there is no such thing as never.
I guess in the end, my obsession ultimately taught me that good things do come to those who wait. So I sit back and say to the rest of Major League Baseball, sit down; wait ‘till next year.
In an interview published today with Tim Keown, ESPN the Magazine, Bryce Harper, the 2015 NL MVP player, had some things to say about the state of baseball. Take a look at some excerpts from the article quoted below and see what he has to say (if you want to read the entire article, go to Sorry Not Sorry).
Baseball’s tired. It’s a tired sport because you can’t express yourself. You can’t do what people in other sports do. I’m not saying baseball is you know boring or anything like that, but it’s the excitement of the young guys who are coming into the game now who have flair. If that’s Matt Harvey or Jacob deGrom or Manny Machado or Joe Pederson or Andrew McCutchen or Yasiel Puig — there’s so many guys in the game now who are so much fun.
Jose Fernandez is a great example. Jose Fernande will strike you out and stare you down into the dugout and pump his fist, And if you hit a home and pimp? He doesn’t care. Because you got him. That’s part of the game. It’s not the old feeling — hoorah –if you pimp a homer. I’m going to hit you right in the teeth. No. If a guy pimps a homer for a game-winning shot…I mean — sorry.
If a guy pumps his fist at me on the mound, I’m going to go, ‘Yeah, you got me. Good for you. Hopefully I get you next time.’ That’s what makes the game fun. You want kids to play the game, right? What are kids playing these days? Football,, baseketball. Look at those players — Steph Curry, LeBron James. It’s exciting to see those players in those sports. Cam New Newtown — I love the way Cam goes about it. He smiles, he laughs. It’s that flair. The dramatic.
According to the article, Harper’s talking about “baseball’s old-school thinking — the unwritten rule, The Code, a century and a half of shut-up-and-play,” and calling for “a game in which players respect each other and retain the right to express themselves fully without fear of a fastball to the ear hole.”
So what do you think?
Is Harper on to something, or should baseball stay as it has been?
Leave your thoughts in the Comment section.
Spring Training is one-third completed and rapidly moving forward.
Which is more than I can so for those of you who are considering submitting your predictions for the 2016 season.
No doubt, some, a few, one or two of you, are waiting to see how your team develops in March. But most likely, the majority of you are just slaggards and procrastinators.
In an attempt to get you moving, and at the behest of one contestant, I have made my own predictions for the contests (I’m not eligible for the prizes) and will post them so you can see my own foolishness as soon as 13 more of you send me your predictions.
My dear father Sam Miller told me frequently over the last quarter of his life, “There’s a time to leave the party.”
I told him I understood and continually asked him, “How do you know when that time has come?”
“That,” he said, “is something you have to figure out for yourself.” (I do think he hinted it was better to leave too early than to stay too late.)
Of course, the “party” can be many things. (I think he first mentioned his mantra when I was considering whether to retire from the school a group of us had created and operated for 30+ years, but he also often mentioned “leaving the party” when he was talking about the end of his own life.)
For those of you (un)lucky ones who may not follow the Boston Red Sox too closely, David Ortiz, Big Papi, told the baseball world on Nov. 19, 2015 — his 40th birthday — that 2016 would be his final year in baseball, saying, “After next year, time is up.” (To see and hear his full announcement, go to the video Ortiz posted to The Players’ Tribune.)
I’ll spare you a review of how good Ortiz’s season was in 2015 and all the things he’s done with his bat, what he’s meant to his team, to the Red Sox Nation, to the city of Boston, to baseball in general, and to his countrymen in the Dominican Republic. There’ll be innumerable articles about all of that throughout the coming season. It’s fair to say, I believe, he’s as close to a lock on getting into the Hall of Fame (may be even the first year he’s eligible) as it’s possible to be.
(Also, check out these two articles, Ortiz still hungry but ready to pass the torch and Papi’s swan song will be a celebration for baseball.)
But the purpose of this post is to give you a heads up for this final year. It won’t be the way Derek Jeter did it, who, in my humble opinion, stayed at the party too long. (Despite his playing for the “Evil Empire,” I always liked Jeter and thought he was one of the class guys in baseball.)
Ortiz’s leaving will be more subdued, less scripted. But if you have a kid, take him to see Ortiz, or just go yourself so you can tell your grand kid you saw him in his final year. You don’t have to go to Fenway to see him. Go to a Sox away game, especially if it’s in your own home town, where it might be easier and less expensive to get tickets to a Sox game.
It’s hard to know when Ortiz’s last at bat will be, but here are two dates to know: the final regular season away game is at Yankee Stadium, Thursday, Sept. 29th. And the Sox’s final regular season home game is October 2 at Fenway Park. If you’re a Sox fan, you hope, as always, that there will be a post season and that whenever his final at bat occurs, he will be able to match Ted Williams and hit a home run.
And wouldn’t it be something if Big Papi won the World Series for the Sox with a walk off home run? But I digress.
That’s not really what’s important.
Not only has Ortiz has brought much joy to many of us (and three World Series), but he will be remembered as one of the Red Sox all time greats, probably the best Designated Hitter of all time.
On top of that, he’s a mensch. Just ask anyone associated with the Sox, even the just added David Price, who once thought the worst of Ortiz.
Think about seeing Big Papi in his final year.
** ** ** ** ** ** ** **
For those of you who may have missed an earlier post this week, I’ve announced the 2016 MillersTime Baseball Contests where you can join others who know anywhere from almost nothing about baseball to those who think they’re experts.
Consider joining this year. There’s no cost, other than a bit of your time. And if you don’t know much about baseball, maybe someone in your family or one of your friends does. Pass it on to them, and if they enter, mention your name, and win, then so do you.
Spring Training has begun, and so, of course, it’s time to turn to the MillersTime Baseball Contests to test your baseball knowledge, hopes, luck, fears, prejudices, and ignorance.
The contests have evolved from just Red Sox (and Evil Empire) focused questions to ones that involve all of MLB as the majority of contestants are no longer Sox fans (poor souls).
You don’t have to enter all of the contests, and if you’re not baseball obsessed (pity), you can easily just choose a couple of contests to enter (see #1, #2, Extra Credit).
While it might be tempting to wait until late in Spring Training to submit your answers, you do run the risk of losing out to someone who submits a similar winning answer earlier.
Also, in addition to the prizes listed in each contest, all winners get the exclusive, one-of-a-kind “MillersTime Baseball Contest Winner” T-Shirt, a much ‘valued’ prize.
Justin B models
his ‘prized’ T-Shirt
Contest # 1:
Pick your favorite MLB team (or the team you know the most) and answer the following questions to prove whether you’re just a homer (“Someone who shows blind loyalty to a team or organization, typically ignoring any shortcomings or faults they have”) or whether you really know something about baseball.
a. What will your team’s regular season record be in 2016?
b. Will they make the playoffs, and if so, how far will they go?
c. What will be the most important factor (hitting, starting pitching, bullpen, an individual’s performance, the manager, injuries, etc.) in determining their season?
Prize: Two tickets to a regular season game with your favorite team (details to be negotiated with moi.)
Make a prediction about something that will happen during the 2016 MLB season.
Your prediction could be about a team, about a player, about a new record, about an ‘event,’ or about something, hopefully unique, you think will happen in 2016. One prediction only.
Of those that come true, MillersTime readers will determine which one is the best prediction. Voters generally have selected the most specific prediction, one that showed baseball knowledge, and/or one that predicted something unusual.
Prize: Join me to see a Nats’ game next year in wonderful seats. If you don’t live in this area, can’t get here, or don’t want to come to DC, you can give your prize to someone who can get here, or I can take a kid to a game in your place.
Contest # 3:
Part A: In 2015, the top ten MLB players’ Batting Averages averaged .322. Will the average of the top ten players batting averages be higher, the same, or lower in 2016? What will that average be?
Part B: In 2015, the top ten MLB players’ OPS (OBP/On-base Percentage + SLG/Slugging Percentage) averaged .931. Will that be higher, the same, or lower in 2016? What will the OPS be in 2016 for the top ten hitters?
Part C: In 2015, the Top ten MLB pitchers Earned Run Averages averaged 2.38. Will the top ten pitchers ERA average be higher, the same or lower in 2015? What will that average be?
Part D: In 2015, the top ten MLB pitchers won 183 games. What will the number of wins be for the top ten pitchers be in 2016?
Prize: Your choice of one of these books: The 20 Best Books Ever Written About Baseball.
Part A: Choose two teams whose combined won/loss record in 2016 will be closest to .500.
Part B: Which MLB team will make the most improvement in their won-loss record in 2016?
Part C: Which MLB relief pitcher will have the most saves in 2016? How many?
Prize: A copy of A. Bartlett Giamatti’s wonderful collection of baseball writings entitled A Great and Glorious Game.
Contest # 5:
Predict who will lead the AL and who will lead the NL in getting the most All Star votes in 2016. Which of the two will receive more votes?
Prize: Join me after the All Star break to see a Nats’ game in wonderful seats. If you don’t live in this area, can’t get here, or don’t want to come to DC, you can give your prize to someone who can get here, or I can take a kid to a game in your place.
Predict the ten (10) teams who will be in the 2016 playoffs. Which two teams will make it to the WS? Which team will win it all?
Prize: One ticket to the 2017 World Series.
Make up your own question about MLB in 2016 and then answer it.
Of those that come true, we’ll put it up to MillersTime baseball readers to decide who wins the prize. And that question will be incorporated in next year’s contests.
Prize: Your choice of one of these books: The 20 Best Books Ever Written About Baseball.
- All winners get the ‘one-of-a-kind,’ specially designed MillersTime Baseball Winner T-Shirt.
- Enter as many or as few of the contests as you want.
- Be sure to answer all parts of each contest you do enter.
- If you get a friend (or a foe) to participate in these contests, and he/she wins and has mentioned your name in their submission, you will get a prize also.
- Get your predictions in soon. In case of ties in any contest, the individual who submitted his/her prediction first will be the winner.
- Submissions should be sent to me in an email – email@example.com or can be sent to me by snail mail – Richard Miller – 2501 Tracy PL. NW, Washington, DC 20008.
Deadline for Submissions: Opening Day: Apr. 3, 2016, 1:05 PM, EST.
First, permit me a moment of digression:
Photo by Jim Davis/Boston Globe
One of my father’s useful pieces of advice was “There’s a time to leave the party.”
David Ortiz seems to agree.
As he turned 40 yesterday, he announced that the 2016 MLB season would be his last. Despite having an excellent season in 2015 (BA – .273, HRs – 37, RBIs – 108), he has chosen to “leave the party” next year, and thus forgo a likely $11 million paycheck for 2017. (Don’t feel sorry for him, though, he made $16 million dollars last year and will do so again in his final season.)
Better to leave before the inevitable decline (Derek Jeter, for example, was not so wise).
As the picture above indicates, Ortiz was involved in all three of the Sox World Series victories, victories that would not have happened without him. Plus, he has given Sox fans endless opportunities to cheer and ward off that hopelessness and pessimism that all of us who have been raised to be obsessed with the Sox have had to endure.
Thank you Papi for all you’ve given us, and thank you for choosing a good time to leave the party.
Now, on to the original purpose for today’s post — announcing the final two winners of the 2015 MillersTime Baseball Contest.
The polls are closed, and your ballots have been counted.
The best trade, baseball and otherwise, is one that benefits both sides of a trade, imho.
If that is so, then I think the recent Sox-Padres trade meets that definition of a ‘best trade’.
While it really isn’t possible yet to evaluate either the short or long term outcome of what Drombrowski has done for/to the Sox, it seems to me that in one trade he’s drastically changed the Sox bullpen for the better – Tazawa in the 7th, Uehara in the 8th, and Kimbrel in the 9th.
The best evaluation of this trade is the one yesterday by Alex Speier. If you haven’t seen it, take a look: 108 Stitches.
Feel free to add to what he has to say in the Comments’ section of this MillersTime/GoSox post.
I don’t know how many of you follow Alex Speier’s 108 Stitches, but if you’re not getting his daily blog post sent to your email, consider doing so. Sometimes there’s more than even the most obsessed of you might want to know, but he’s always informative.