3/21 – DEADLINE EXTENDED: Contrary to the information at the end of this post, the deadline for submissions has been extended until the first pitch is thrown on Opening Day, March 31, in the US (as opposed to the two games early opening day games in Australia between the Dodgers and Diamondbacks). For individuals who have submitted their picks in a timely fashion, you are welcome to amend any or all of what you’ve submitted. For those of you who are slaggards, your procrastination/careless reading of the previously announced deadline has been ‘rewarded’. However, in case of a tie in any of the contests, the individual who first submitted the prediction will be declared the winner.
The title of this post is perhaps slightly misleading, but then it may have gotten you at least to get this far into today’s post.
It’s about that wonderful time of the year when football, basketball, and most of those other minor sports are either off the front of the sporting news or are tiresome, and folks who understand the fascination of baseball are beginning to get revved. After all, truck day has come and gone, most pitchers and catchers have reported, full squad practices are beginning, and we will have a year without A-Rod disgracing our blessed game.
What more could we ask?
The point of this post, you ask?
I am ‘working’ on the 2014 MillersTime Baseball Contests and need a bit of your help.
With the conclusion of the World Series (wasn’t that just dandy?) and the naming of Wil Myers as the American League Rookie of the Year today, the voting closes for choosing the winners of Contests #1 and #6.
Contest #1 – Make a Prediction about the 2013 baseball season:
I put the 12 predictions that came true to a vote of MillersTime/GoSox baseball readers, and the result was a tie between two as voters seemed to appreciate the specificity of the these two predictions:
#3 – RA Dickey will struggle, his ERA will be higher than the past three seasons, and he won’t win more than 15 games. (His ERA was indeed higher, 4.21 vs 3.28, and his record was 14-13.)
#7 – Jordan Zimmerman will be the Nats best and most consistent pitcher, over Strasburg and Gonzales. (Zimmerman was 19-9, Strasburg 8-9, Gonzales 11-8.)
So Rob Higdon (#3) and Dan Cate (#7) tie. Their prize is an all expense over night car trip with me to Cooperstown between the end of the 2013 MLB baseball season and Opening Day in 2014. Hopefully we can work out a mutually satisfying time for this trip.
First Game: 7/09
Most Recent: 9/13
My grandfather, Pappy (Rob Goodman, your great, great grandfather), was the person who introduced me to baseball and to the Red Sox. In all of his years going to Fenway Park (he was a season ticket holder, nights and weekends), he never saw the Sox win a World Series. (He might have seen them play in the World Series one time as the Sox did make it that far in 1946. But he never saw them win because they lost to St. Louis that time.)
The Sox didn’t get to the WS again in Pappy’s life time and so he never got to see what his grandson (me), great granddaughters (your mother Annie & auntie Elizabeth), and great great grand son (you) have had the good fortune to experience.
As this wonderful baseball season draws to a close with the two teams with the best records (97-85) in each league playing for the World Series title, we have some winners and some ‘semi-finalists in the three remaining 2013 MillersTime Baseball Contests.
(Shane Victorino hits a grand slam home run to put the Sox ahead, 5-2 in the the sixth and deciding game of the 2013 ALCS playoffs.)
The last time you spent the night at our house, you said, “Tell me how well the Red Sox are doing?”
Well, while you were asleep last night and I was worrying about the game, a Red Sox batter hit a grand slam home run, scoring all three runners who were on base, plus himself. That put the Sox ahead of the Tigers, 5-2, and shortly thereafter, the game ended.
For those of you who follow such foolishness, you know the Red Sox defeated the Rays last night in Tampa to move on to the American League Championship Series and a possible chance to play in the 2013 World Series.
While last night’s event, and the earlier ones against the Rays, is not important to 99.99+% of America, it was important to a few of us, and to those who have to live with us.
But this post is not about the victory itself but about another example where I once again learned I don’t know myself so well and despite my advancing age, I haven’t learned how to handle certain things so well.
One of the delights for me being able to pursue interests other than professional ones is having time to read and think about some of those other interests.
Today’s post links to three articles that I have found particularly interesting about sports.
And you do not have to be an obsessive sports’ fan nor do you need to pick baseball over football or vice versa to enjoy them.
The first two articles (sent to me by BT) are written by a football player who is particularly gifted in his ability to convey what it is like to be a professional football player, to fail at that profession, and to continue to pursue his dream to play.
Both of his articles are worth your time I believe:
* What It’s Like to Get Whacked, by Austen Lane
* A Game with No End, by Austen Lane
The other article I draw to your attention (thanks to AR for alerting me to this one) appeared yesterday in the New York Times and discusses the current ‘decline’ in interest in baseball as the ‘National Pastime’, some of the reasons football (and other sports) has/have gained in popularity, and the differences between them.
Its author, Jonathan Mahler, doesn’t seek to persuade you about one sport over the other but rather writes about how they differ. And, perhaps, as interesting as the article itself are the Comments by readers that follow the article. If you have the time and the topic interests you, there is much here to enjoy and consider.
Is the Game Over, by Jonathan Mahler
I appreciate that you have been quite patient with my mishegas (craziness) again this year with the Red Sox.
I have also noticed that you haven’t ‘rolled your eyes’ when I’ve said that getting into the playoffs isn’t enough, that the Sox need to have the best record in the American League too.
But I’m not sure you understand just how important it is have the best record.
So a quick post for you to know why I am continuing to stress about my heroes even tho they will be in the playoffs.
If they have the best won/loss record that means the following:
1) They will have home field advantage in the two series they would have to play to get to the World Series. In the first best of five series and then in the second best of seven series if there are final games, those crucial games would take place in Fenway, home of the brave.
How important is that, you may ask?
Of the 81 games they have played at home this year, they are 53-28. They have won 65% of their games at Fenway.
Of the 78 games they have played away from home so far this year (they still have three left to play this weekend in Baltimore), they are 43-35, 55%.
Enough of a difference to matter.
2) They will face the winner of a one game Wild Card play off. And that team will have used their best pitcher in that Wild Card game, meaning the Sox won’t have to face the likes of say a David Price in their first game.
3) They will not have to face Detroit in the first playoff series. Detroit has both terrific pitching and strong hitting. And there is always the chance they will be defeated by the time the Sox have to play them.
4) They will not have to make two trips to the West Coast to play Oakland (going back for a final game if the series goes that far), which means they will be more rested.
But you may ask, “Don’t they still have to beat the Tigers and whoever wins the playoff games against the Wild Card anyway?”
But playing at home, playing with the most rest possible, and not having to face one of the best pitchers in baseball to get to the World Series all matter.
Those are not guarantees that the Sox would make it to the World Series.
But every advantage helps.
As the 2013 MLB season winds down, or, for some of us, winds up, there are already three winners to announce for this year’s MillersTime Baseball Contests.
Contest #4 – Will Nats make the playoffs? If yes, how far will they go? If no, why not?
More than 90% of you said the Nats would make the playoffs, and some of you thought they’d make it to the World Series or even be the winner of the WS. Most seemed to believe the Nats would pick up right where they left off last year (98-64). With four games remaining, they are 84-74 and have been eliminated from the Wild Card.
Matt Gallati (“they will be plagued by injuries and thus lose more often than they win.”), Larry Longenecker (“Davey Johnson will eventually upset people by speaking his mind…”) and David Price (“…they won’t even be close…”) all thought they wouldn’t make the playoffs and seemed to understand that 2013 would be different for them than 2012.
But Randy Candea wins this contest with this prediction for 2013: “Nats (88-74) will finish behind Atlanta and not make the playoffs due to sophomore jinx. Unlike last year, they won’t win the close games.” He gets two tickets to a Nationals’ game of his choice in 2014.
Contest #5 – Predict the Sox-Yankee Split of the 19 games they play against each other. Since Jere Smith failed to take the opportunity to appeal my decision, Meg Gage wins the two tickets to Fenway in 2014. (See this earlier post for more details on the results of this contest.)
Contest #7 – Worst Prediction.
Actually this one was not one of the six original 2013 contests. In a moment of anxiety about how the Sox were doing, I distracted myself by going through everyone’s predictions and decided to add a category of the Worst Prediction for 2013. I found 15 predictions that were pretty wide of the mark and let you folks choose which one was the worst. (See all the 15 in this earlier post.)
Elizabeth Hedlund ‘won’ (got the most votes from you) with her prediction that “Stephen Strasburg wins 30 games, first since Denny McLain in 1986.” And because contestant Tracy Capullo encouraged Elizabeth to join the contests, these two Red Sox fans get to go to a Nats’ game of their choice in 2014.
Contest #3. Which League wins the All-Star game, what will the score be, and who will be the MVP?
I announced the winner of this contest earlier. Tim Malieckal and I will go to Minneapolis next summer.
Finally, there are still three contests to be decided: Best overall prediction (#1), Best Team Prediction (#2), and World Series Contestants and winner. We’ll have to wait until the end of October to see who wins these.
Contest #5 : The Red Sox and the Yankees play 19 games this year. Last year they played 18, and the Yankees won 13 of them. What will the split be in 2013? Tie-Breaker: Who will be the outstanding player for each team, and who will be the dud on each team this year?
Prize: Two tickets to a Sox-Yankee game in 2014. Winner can choose the park and whether or not I join (use the second ticket).
Fifty-four per cent of those participating said the Yankees would win the series, taking 11.4 games to the Sox 7.6.
The 46% of you who thought the Sox would win said they’d win 11 games to 8.
With last nights 9-2 victory by the Sox, a sweep of the final three game series between the two teams, the Fenway heroes put the final nail in the coffin of any possibility of the Yankees winning the AL East Division.
The Sox, on the other hand, improved their record to 92-59 (.609) and increased their Division lead to 9.5 games over the tottering Tampa Bay Rays. With 11 games remaining in their regular season schedule, the Sox Magic Number is down to four.
(For those not paying close attention to the 2013 Red Sox, Yes, these are the Red Sox who last year ended the season with a record of 69-93. Certainly an amazing turn around, about which I probably will write in more detail on another, later post.)
Oh yes. The Sox-Yankee split this year?
Sox 13 to the Yankee’s 6, with the Sox scoring a total of 120 runs to the Yankee’s 85.
A(nother) total reversal of 2012.
Four of the MillersTime contestants were tied with the closest predictions. Dan Fisher, Meg Gage, Jere Smith and Tracy Capulo all predicted a split of 12-7, favoring the Sox.
(Ed. note: one contestant, Elizabeth R. Miller, predicted the Sox would take the series 15-4, being the only one who said the Sox would win more than 12 of the 19 games. Obviously, Ms Miller must have been raised well. On the other hand, Yankee homer David Price will have to live with another one of his sorry predictions, “Yankees will win 14 games. The Sox will be lucky to get away with the other 5.” David comes from ‘Across the Pond’ and perhaps that contributes to his continual misjudgments.)
Since Dan and Tracy failed to make predictions about who would be the outstanding players and who would be the duds, they tie for third place in this contest.
That leaves Meg Gage and Jere Smith.
Meg said Pedroia would be the Sox hero, and Dempster would be the dud for the Sox. And Cano would be the hero and Teixeira the dud for the Yankees.
Jere said for the Sox, Middlebrooks would be the outstanding player and Aceves the dud. For the Yankees, he picked Sabathia as the hero and Youk as the dud.
By the power invested in me by me, I therefore declare Jere Smith runner-up.
And Meg Gage wins the prize and gets to see a Sox-Yankee game in 2014.
However, if Mr. Smith would like to appeal this decision to the MillersTime readers, I will give him one week to present his case, and then I will put the appeal decision up to a vote.
Finally, the best quote I heard about last night’s game and the Sox-Yankee rivalry this year came from that no good fellow Alex Rodriquez: “I guess the good news is that we’re leaving Boston.”
Hopefully, for the rest of this season. And for ever (forever) for A-Rod.
Finally, if you didn’t have a chance to see the Sox tribute (and roast) to Mariano Rivera last night, you can see it now:
Last night proved once again that you simply have to stay until the end of a baseball game, whether that’s the 27th out or the final out or run scored in extra innings.
So after blowing a 7-2 lead to the Evil Empire last night, the mighty Sox were down to their final strike in the ninth inning. Mariano Rivera, the great God of closers, was on the mound. Mike Napoli, the strike out leader for the Sox with 171 so far this season, was up with two strikes. The Yunkee fans were all on their feet screaming for the final punch out, an amazing comeback, and an important win as their long season was hanging by a thread.
And I had my hand on the off button on my iPad so I wouldn’t have to see the Bronx celebration.
If you’re reading this post, you probably already know the outcome. Napoli scratches out a hit. Recent Sox acquiree and speedster Quintin Barry replaces Napoli on first, steals second and gets to third on a bad throw and a missed stop by hobbled Derek Jeter. Stephen Drew, unsung Sox player who was 0-4 already, scratches out a single, and the Sox tie the game. Rivera blows (another) save opportunity against my heroes.
So if you had left the stadium, as perhaps half of the Bronx fans had already done, or switched off your TV, iPad, or radio, you missed the come back.
Then it was another 15 minutes or so before the Yankees further imploded with Soriano getting greedy trying to steal third after having swiped second. He was caught. The Sox got out of the inning with the next batter.
In the 10th, after a blown call by an umpire on whether Shane Victorino had swung or not, benefiit to the Sox, chubby Joba Chamberlain gave up a go ahead RBI to one of this year’s key Sox players (Victorino).
Koji Uehara, the not so surprising Sox closer (to those who have followed his career closely), and perhaps the new, next God of closers, shut down the Yunks in the bottom of the 10th.
Four hours and thirty-two minutes.
And if you hadn’t stayed through the end of the 9th and on to the 10th, you woulda missed it.
There were enough mistakes by both teams, their managers, and the umpires to fill another post, but I’ll spare you that.
Suffice it to say, Thursday night’s game was simply another confirmation that no matter what, you have to stay until the end.
(PS – Elsewhere I’ve written why you also have to be at the park for the first inning, as the three hardest outs are not at the end of a game but in the first inning, when most runs are scored, before the pitchers settle in and while the offensive teams have their best hitters lined up).