Tag Archives: baseball

Bring on the Baseball — Sandlot Style

The Sandlot

By Thalia Bardell, howiGit Contributing Writer, Boston, MA

I’m just going to go ahead and skip right over the Super Bowl. The Steelers lost so I have nothing to gloat about and the only thing that matters to Bostonians is that Big Ben Roethlisberger is still one ring behind Tom Brady. I think it’s safe to assume that I can speak for most Pittsburghians and New Englanders alike when I say, I’m over it. Honestly, I was over it last Thursday. If I saw that Clay Matthews vs. Troy Polamalu hair montage one more time on ESPN I was going to tear my own hair out. Time to move on to more important things – like baseball.

Our fair city has one week left to wait for Red Sox pitchers and catchers to report to Fort Myers, Florida for spring training. I’ll tell you the first thing that I’m going to do, plop right down on my couch and watch The Sandlot. Now, I may catch some flak for this statement but it is my opinion that The Sandlot is one of the greatest baseball movies of all time. Yeah ok, Field of Dreams, The Natural, Eight Men Out, they’re good, but seriously, can anything top the scene of buck-toothed and be-spectacled Squints faking a drowning at the pool so he can get mouth to mouth from hottie lifeguard Wendy Peffercorn? I think not.

The sandlot clan played some pretty sweet ball too. The team’s conglomeration of neighborhood misfits and scrappy style of play remind me of the 2004 Red Sox; Kenny DeNunez’s windup looks a whole lot like Pedro’s, Benny “the Jet” Rodriguez is cracking homers like Manny,and “Yeah-Yeah” – totally Kevin Millar. They even have jacket and jersey clad, expensive bike riding rivals — the  Tigers — who are, of course, the New York Yankees. The sandlot crew  blew those snobs out in a backyard brawl just like the Sox blew out the Yanks in 2004’s ALCS game 7. Proving that dirt, heart, and a little trash talking à la round-faced catcher Ham Porter – “Is that your sister out there in left field, naked? She’s naked?” – were more important than expensive jerseys and highly paid free agents. Maybe it’s because I’m tired of trudging through ankle-deep slush or I’m nostalgic for a time in my life when bike riding wasn’t just for hipsters, but this movie feels like just what I need to get me through the next week and into the start of the Boston Red Sox 2011 season. I can’t wait to play ball.

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Dustin Pedroia Versus Robinson Cano

Dustin Pedroia Versus Robinson Cano

Last week we briefly got into a little spat over the question of who is the better second baseman: Boston’s Dustin Pedroia or New York’s Robinson Cano. After our previous looks at David Ortiz versus Alex RodriguezTom Brady versus Derek Jeter, Tom Brady versus Peyton ManningMichael Jordan. versus Kobe Bryant, and Luke Harangody versus Shelden Williams, I couldn’t resist. So here it is….

I’ll start by saying this: Robinson Cano was a rookie in 2005, whereas Pedroia was a rookie in 2007 (Can0 is 28, Pedroia is 27). Given his past two seasons, you’ve got to give the edge to Cano. That said, for comparison’s sake, I think it’s much more fair to compare the first 4 seasons of each player’s career. Cano’s numbers popped in his 5th season, and Pedroia’s were beginning to pop last year until he was sidelined with an injury. A look at the first 4 years of each players career might be enlightening in telling how good each of these players could end up being.

Dustin Pedroia (2007-2010) – .307 AVG, 16 HR, 76 RBI, .374 OBP

Robinson Cano (2005-2008) – .304 AVG, 17 HR, 87 RBI, .336 OBP

Those numbers are adjusted 162 game averages for sake of comparison, and needless to say they are pretty damn similar. Let’s look at other accolades earned during that time:

Dustin Pedroia (2007-2010) – 2007 World Series Champion, 2007 Rookie of the Year, 2008 All-Star, 2008 AL MVP, 2008 Golden Glove, 2008 Silver Slugger, 2008 League Leader in runs (118), hits (213), & doubles (54), 2009 All-Star, 2009 League Leader in runs (115), 2010 All-Star

Robinson Cano (2005-2008) – 2006 All-Star, 2006 Silver Slugger

Pedroia clearly wins in this department by a landslide. Why is this, given their similar statistics? A great question. The common sentiment seems to be that Pedroia’s play had a bigger impact on his team. He certainly has displayed more leadership early in his career than Cano has. That said, he’s going to have a tough time keeping up with Cano in terms of power numbers, although he was off to a great start least year. Regardless of who you prefer, these are probably the two best second baseman in baseball. This will be an interesting rivalry to watch develop, that’s for sure.

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Yo Adrian (Gonzalez)! Welcome to Boston

Adrian Gonzalez Boston Red Sox

Theo Epstein has made me very happy, as the Red Sox have a 11:00am press conference today to officially announce that they have traded for San Diego Padres’ first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. This move is the single move I most wanted the Red Sox to fulfill this offseason, as they have been targeting Gonzalez for some time. Although Gonzalez has yet to sign a long-term deal, the Red Sox have offered him 6 years for $120 million. He is reportedly looking for 8 years, paying about $23-$25 million per season, and according to several sources it looks probable that he will eventually sign for a 7 year deal at $22 million per season. Simply put, Adrian Gonzalez is our new Mark Texiera.

I like this deal for many reasons — Gonzalez is young (29), a Gold Glove winning defensive player, and a perennial 30 home run 100 RBI hitter. Although his career batting average is .284, his on base percentage numbers are excellent — he had a .396 OBP last season. Perhaps most overlooked is the fact that Gonzalez posted these numbers in an extremely hitter-unfriendly ballpark with no protection in the Padres’ lineup — as a left-handed hitter his power numbers will likely pop in Fenway Park. This move also sures up a fantastic infield defense, specifically at the corners with Kevin Youkilis’ move to third base.

So what’s the bad news? He’s going to require a big money, long-term deal. If he’s able to agree to such a deal, the Red Sox will then have a core of Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis, and Dustin Pedroia signed for several seasons — which is great. However, Jason Werth’s signing with the Washington Nationals for 7 seasons at $126 million really hurts the Red Sox’s chances of landing Carl Crawford, who is represented by Scott Boras and is younger than Werth. He’s likely out of reach financially for the Sox now, although if we did manage to sign him it would an unbeleivable lineup.  All of that said, the real reason to be excited is a look towards my proposed opening day lineup for the Sox — they still need to add some depth, but this lineup is undeniably good.

1) Jacoby Ellsbury (L)

2) Dustin Pedroia (R)

3) David Ortiz (L)

4) Kevin Youkilis (R)

5) Adrian Gonzalez (L)

6) JD Drew (L)

7) Ryan Kallish (L)

8)Jason Varitek or Jarrod Saltalamacchia (R) or (R)

9) Marco Scutaro (R)

Starting Pitcher: John Lester

That’s a huge reason to get excited, although I still think we need one more significant bat (yes, Crawford would be perfect). Regardless, it’s great to see the Red Sox take such a huge step in the right direction.

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Tom Brady Versus Derek Jeter — Who is Superior?

Tom Brady New England Patriots

By Jimmy Cunningham, howiGit Contributing Writer

New York, NY

Mr. howiGit loves his comparisons, so here is one for him: a comparison of the two most iconic heroes in New York and Boston of the past generation — Derek Jeter versus Tom Brady. As with most comparisons on this blog, this one will dig deeper than just the numbers and performance on the field, but will examine the whole person — and in the end will determine the more iconic figure.

Winning – Both Jeter and Brady have won a lot in their careers. Both have been in the playoffs every year except one, with Brady missing one season while hurt in 2008. Jeter has played in seven World Series in 15 seasons; Brady has played in four Super Bowls in nine years. Jeter has won five World Series championships and Brady has won three Super Bowls. With those numbers being too close to close to call, this is a push.
Result: Push

Records – Currently, Jeter is the active leader in hits in the MLB, and looks to continue to move up the all-time list. I have a bet with Mr. howiGit Derek Jeter New York Yankees that he will break Pete Rose’s record for the most hits all-time, so we will see how that one ends up. That said, most of Jeter’s records are playoff records: leading in playoff hits, runs, and doubles. Along with that, he is third all-time in playoff home runs. Brady’s records come mostly from the 2007 18-1 season with Patriots, with his single season record-breaking 50 touchdowns being his crowning jewel. He also owns the record for most completions ever in a Super Bowl with 32 against Carolina in 2004. For both Brady and Jeter, career records have yet to be determined, but due to his touchdown record season the edge goes to Brady.
Result: Brady Wins

Clutchness – Mr. howiGit’s favorite intangible quality is clutchness. Both of these players seem to have ice water in their veins and step up when their teams need them most. Jeter’s batting average when his team is down is .317, which climbs to.322 when his team is down by one run. His career average climbs by nine points when his team is losing by any margin, from .308 to .317. His average also continues to grow on the games highest stage; the World Series, going from .308 to .321. With that, Jeter has a .400 on-base percentage in the 9th inning, to go along with a .333 batting average in extra innings as well as a .500 on base percentage in those extra innings. Brady has 30 4th quarter wins, in which his team is tied or down heading into that quarter. Along with that, he has engineered two last-minute Super Bowl winning drives and has been near perfect in overtime throughout his career. The edge here goes to Jeter. Looking at Brady’s career by quarter, the 4th has been his worst. He has his most interceptions, fumbles, and worst quarterback rating in the 4th quarter. According to quarterback rating, Brady plays his worst when his team is down, while Jeter elevates his play at crunch time.
Result: Jeter Wins

Women – Tom Brady has a gorgeous wife in Gisele Bundchen. I would question you to find anyone who would say that she is ugly. He also has dated Tara Reed, pre letting herself go, and also has a kid with Bridgette Moynahan who also is no slouch. But this one is not a contest. Derek Jeter has dated 6 women on Maxim’s top 100 lists; Jessica Alba, Vanessa Manillo, Scarlett Johansson, Gabriele Union, Mariah Carey, and Jessica
Biel. That is just the All-Star team which does not include a Miss Universe, singers, and actresses. Oh and he is engaged to Minka Kelly who was recently named sexiest woman alive by Esquire Magazine.
Result: Jeter Wins, by a landslide.

Endorsements – Jeter is endorsed and heavily featured by Gatorade and Jordan. He is also one of three athletic spokesmen for Gillette with Roger Federer and Tiger Woods, two of the best at their respective sports. Jeter makes over $10 million a year total in endorsements. He was recently in a movie, The Other Guys, staring Mark Wahlberg and Will Farrell. He also currently has the top-selling jersey in the MLB, coming in his 15th season. Brady, on the other hand, has endorsements with Smartwater and Movado watches, and makes about $4 million annually in endorsements. He also has the 14th highest selling NFL jersey, one behind Eli Manning.
Result: Jeter Wins

Personality- Derek Jeter seems to have the respect of his peers, media, and the public in general. The knock on Jeter is that his defense has declined. People that do not like him have the type of dislike that comes from respect. Brady gets much love from the media and seems to have a healthy rivalry with Peyton Manning. However ask the Baltimore Ravens or the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have both had issues with Brady on the field, what they think of Tom Terrific. I don’t think you would ever see Jeter get in the face of a back-up left fielder, a la Anthony Smith or question how many runs his team is going to score in the World Series, a la Plaxico Burress. Something I did not know existed before doing some research for this article is dickipedia.com. It is a Wikipedia type page devoted entirely to who the public thinks are “dicks”. Tom Brady has a page, Alex Rodriguez has a page, Derek Jeter does not. Jeter also doesn’t model his hair off of a 16-year-old Canadian punk.
Result: Jeter Wins

So in the end, Jeter is the winner, 4-1-1. The on the field was very close with Jeter winning one, Brady winning one, and a push. However Jeter really pulled away in the off the field aspects, proving himself the overall better man. If any topics were missed, let the debate begin.

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Phillies, Giants, Yankees, Rangers — World Series Match-ups

2010 World Series

This major league baseball postseason has been bizarre, to say the least. The heavily favored Yankees and Phillies both found themselves down in the League Championship series 3-1, to teams that nobody gave a good shot. The Yankees have since brought it back to 3-2, and the Phillies have an awesome Lincecum versus Halladay game tonight. Can the Yanks and Phils pull off a big comeback? We’ll see. But for the sake of conversation, here are my favorites on all possible World Series matchups.

Yankees vs. Phillies — Yankees in 7 games

Yankees vs. Giants — Yankees in 5 games

Rangers vs. Phillies — Phillies in 7 games

Rangers vs. Giants — Rangers in 6 games

Thoughts? Arguments?

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David Ortiz Versus A-Rod…..I’m Just Sayin’

David Ortiz versus Alex Rodriguez

When I first started writing this blog, one of the first ideas that came to me was writing an offensive comparison of David Ortiz versus Alex Rodriguez. That post, which showed Ortiz’s versus A-Rod’s stats since 2004, struck a chord with Red Sox and Yankees fans alike. The numbers pretty much were a push, and I argued that given Ortiz’s postseason prowess, he should be declared the better offensive threat during that period. Yankees fans, unable to listen to reason, fought back. “We’ll see how Ortiz does once he’s off of steroids, I bet he’ll suck,” was the general sentiment. And Yankees fans chuckled after Ortiz had an absolutely abysmal start to the 2010 season. I could hear the “I told you so’s” echoing in my ears. Be patient, I told them. And here we have both Ortiz’s and A-Rod’s stats for 2010. The number of at bats they each had was nearly identical.

David Ortiz — .270 AVG, 32 HR, 102 RBI, 141 hits

A-Rod — .270 AVG, 30 HR, 125 RBI, 140 hits

Those numbers, once again, look frightening similar to me. Now I will certainly give A-Rod the edge, as 23 RBI’s is a significant difference. But you do have to factor in that A-Rod had people on base in front of him much more often than Papi did. Papi consistently had Marco Scutaro and a rotation of other scrubs hitting in front of him. That’s not an excuse, it’s a reality. Regardless, these two had very similar seasons at the plate. Ortiz was just fine “without his steroids.” Ironically, there is no more proof of Ortiz using steroids than there is of anyone who was making these statements using steroids, but that’s another issue and a bridge we’ve crossed all too often. Here’s an updated look at Ortiz and A-Rod’s stats, since 2004.

HR                     RBI                         AVG

David Ortiz                         260                     831                         .286

Alex Rodriguez                268                     841                          .296

Take it for what it is — Alex Rodriguez averages 1.1 more home runs and 1.4 RBI’s more than David Ortiz per season. Whose ears are echoing with “I told you so” now?

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MLB 2010 Season Ending Standings — Analysis

2010 MLB Standings

With the 2010 Major League Baseball regular season in the books, I was pouring over the standings from each division looking at overall records, score differentials, etc. Out of this came a few interesting tid-bits of baseball knowledge:

1) The AL West has 4 teams, the NL Central has 6 teams, and all other divisions have 5 teams. While I knew this before, as I looked over the standings it struck me once again as very strange that this does not receive more attention. It seems intuitively obvious to me that this needs to change. The bottom line is if you play in the AL West you have a much greater chance of making the playoffs than if you play in the NL Central. It just seems unfair to me. The question then is this; should the NL be considered at an advantage because they have more teams that could potentially win the World Series, or at a disadvantage because the talent is a bit more diluted?

2) Everybody knows I am the first person to credit the AL East with being by far the best division in baseball. You look at the top teams in this division, the fact that they consistently have to play one another, and how good their records are and I think this statement speaks for itself. I think that many years, including this year, you could argue that the three best teams in baseball are in the AL East. A little further analysis further proves my point. The AL East teams all have to consistently play each other, yet they still win by far the most games on average of any division in baseball.

Average Number of Wins Per Division — MLB 2010 Regular Season

AL East — 86.2 wins
AL Central — 79.8 wins
AL West — 78 wins

NL East — 83.2 wins
NL Central — 77.1 wins
NL West — 82 wins

What else do you need to know?

3) Just for the fun of it, here are the answers to my 1995-2010 Red Sox Trivia post.

Mike Greenwell
Tom “Flash” Gordon — he had 46 saves
John Valentin — 27 home runs
Scott Hatteberg
Keith Foulke
Dan Duquette
David Ortiz — yup, that’s right
Pedro Martinez — a crazy stat. His 1999 and 2000 seasons are two of the best ever.
Jeff Frye
Bronson Arroyo

Thanks to all who participated.

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