It’s not merely a coincidence that the bloom of flowers and greening of grass overlaps with the upstart of our game across the country. Baseball has a way of providing life to people and cities across the world. But what is so magical about this fabled Opening Day? Let me start by saying that it’s not even one specific day. To many, Opening Day is the start of the MLB season, but to others it can also be the “herding of cats” version of the first day of t-ball, or just two old friends playing catch again.
As a kid I could not wait for this time of the year. (I’m sure my parents would be willing to vouch for that too.) I would track spring training games intently. If someone was pushing for a roster spot, I knew about it. If the roster invitee had 6 HR’s in spring, I would learn his: hometown, eye color, and mother’s maiden name. I was — err.. still am — a geek when it comes to this kind of stuff. The problem with being this in-tune with my team was that I never really got an opportunity to just sit back and be hopeful. That is, except for Opening Day.
Tick, tick, tick.
My friends and I had created a culture with our dads that whenever the Royals home opener was, we would go to the game. Now if I had to guess it was as much the dad’s desire to go as ours, but nonetheless we still take the credit for it. However they would always insist that we attend school for the first half of the day before pulling us out early. I use to think this was some sort of before-the-fact consequence for the impending indulgences. It was effective. If you’ve ever stared at a clock from 8:05 until 11:00, you know my perpetual pain.
I was a good student in school. But not on this day. In fact it was the one day out of the year when I was an absolutely lousy student. It’s not that I didn’t care, it’s just that I cared so much more about the game. Can you blame me? The stats I had studied so hard from the previous season were wiped clean. The standings I dreadfully analyzed had reset. The field was going to look (and more importantly) smell brand new. And, the big one for me, the stadium I had so often frequented the season before was going to be full and rocking. The tinge of hope was in the air and none of the “10 Tips to an Engaging Lesson Plan” were going to capture my attention on this day. And sure enough, one-by-one the handful of us going would be picked from our classrooms like captains picking kickball teams. And if you were the last one waiting, it felt twice as long as the previous three hours.
Bzzzt.. Can you send Tyler down to the office, his dad is here to pick him up.
Yes. Yes! oOh hell yes!! Literal adrenaline would rush through my body when I’d finally be called down. No offense to any of my past teachers here, but when I’d walk through those halls it felt comparable to an inmate being paroled. Once we made it to the stadium everything felt right. We’d settle in for what many would believe to be just another baseball game, but to us it meant so much more. It was the beginning of summer time. It was the beginning of baseball.
So here we are. Stats, standings, fields, and stadiums all set. The grass is green, and the life of baseball is back. And while the exact occurrences of the season are impossible to forecast, we do know a few things. We know that the allure of a new dynasty has every Northside fan salivating. We know that the stories of the ’69 Mets and ’87 Twins are ringing through the heads of every reigning cellar dweller. And we know that there will be memories from the 2017 season that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. Let’s have a wonderful season and I hope you all enjoy the ride.
And here’s to all of you getting called down to the office over the next few days!
I write this with a heavy heart. Not only was Yordano Ventura an exceptionally talented young player, but he was a Royal, and that means a little bit more to the people of this city nowadays.
Let’s go back to 2014 for a moment. Ervin Santana had just left for Atlanta in free agency and would be taking his 211 innings and 3.24 ERA with him. There was a noticeable hole to fill in the rotation of a franchise now mired by a 28-year playoff drought. Fans clamored all winter long for the team to bring in various over-the-hill and overpriced free agent pitchers. Dayton (Royals’ GM) however, did not bite on the likes of Dan Haren, Annibal Sanchez, or Kyle Lohse. He confidently projected that one of our young pitchers would be more than capable of taking on the challenge.
As the Royals broke camp it was announced that 5’11” 160lbs. Yordano Ventura would be that guy. A town of 3 million held their doubts. Well, at least 2,999,999 of us did. If there’s one thing to say about Yordano it’s that if chicks dig confidence and the radar gun, then he must’ve had his choice of women. He carried himself like a 4-time Cy Young winner since the day he debuted. Some called it arrogant. Others, cocky. But needless to say it was exactly what this team needed. A group of ‘aw-shucks’ good ‘ol boys were finally paired up with a kid that would’ve stepped in the ring with Mike Tyson if the former heavyweight champion would’ve so much as looked at him funny.
Yordano, 22, set the American League ablaze in his first full season as a major leaguer — throwing his fastball at an astounding average velocity of 97.0mph. His 14-10 record and 3.20 ERA garnered him a 6th place finish in the AL Rookie of the Year voting. But don’t let his placing fool you. 4 of the 5 players to finish ahead of him were 25 years or older. The winner was Jose Abreu, a 27-year old defect who had already logged half a decade on the back of his Cuban baseball card. Ventura had proven he could play with the best players on the planet and in doing so had a major role in leading Kansas City back to the playoffs.
Oh but the kid didn’t stop there, in his first postseason start he went to LA and pitched 7 innings of 1-run baseball against the team with the best record in the game. There was never a moment too big for him. That includes an elimination Game 6 of the World Series… The day after one of his best friends, Cardinals’ top prospect Oscar Taveras, died. It would’ve been easy to crumble considering the circumstances, but backing-down wasn’t in Yordano’s nature. He went out and threw the game of his career on the biggest possible stage: 7 innings, 3 hits, 0 runs.
Yordano’s world, much like that of every 20-something individual was filled with exuberance, turmoil, and every emotion in between. Tomorrow I turn 25 years old (the age at which he passed away.) Just personally since he debuted in 2013 I have: held 3 different jobs, become an uncle of 2, gone through a break-up, met the girl I love, cried myself to sleep, laughed until it hurt, lied to people I cherish, gave forgiveness to those I don’t care for, and even found myself in an Austin, Texas ambulance after a night of overindulgence. I choose to be vulnerable here because I’d like for us all to come off the mountain top when we analyze Yordano. He was playing professional baseball at the highest level when most of us take a “victory lap” of 6 credit hours to graduate from college. We all make msitakes. His just happened to be in front of fan-filled stadiums and documented by high definition cameras.
The ‘what-ifs’ will never perish. We can cement them as part of his legacy. It may turn out that this was the easier option for us fans. We can always dream of what he would’ve been. We won’t have to watch the baby-faced fireballer lose his velocity and child-like passion. He will never play on another team. And while I stood in the corner on the idea of trading him, I find myself seeing the silver-lining here today. Yordano Ventura has, and will have, only ever donned the Kansas City Royals uniform. There hasn’t been a more fitting use of the city’s mantra than it’s use here today. Yordano Ventura, #ForeverRoyal.
The 5 things you need to know with the 2016-17 MLB CBA.
The new DL rules.
New World Series home field advantage.
The season is longer.
Qualifying offer compensation.
International free agency.
1. The DL is shorter.
Under the previous rules players placed on the DL were required to miss 15 calendar days before returning to the field. However both sides agreed that shortening the number from 15 to 10 would offer a smoother process for teams when dealing with player injuries. This is a smart move by the game to effectively fix one of the minor problems in the game for many years now.
2. Home field advantage will be determined by the best regular season record.
Bud Selig, the then commissioner of baseball, was public enemy number for the 2002 All Star Game tie in Milwaukee’s version of the midsummer classic. Unfortunately he didn’t take the scrutiny too kindly. And in a rash turn of events he created a mandate that would never allow for the exhibition game to end in a tie again. Thus the winning team having the World Series advantage was born.
13 World Series later we have corrected the wrong. Now the ever minor advantage of home field in the game of baseball will be given to the team with the better record throughout the 162 game season.
3. The season is now 4 days longer.
No, I’m not talking about games here but instead total days. Which means that the players will get nearly an additional off day (in theory) every month.
This is a great thing. The season will end at the end of September still but start four days earlier and shorten the already too long Spring Training. It may not be noticeable for us fans but I guarantee the players are going to enjoy their 4 extra days of “vacation” throughout the season.
4. Qualifying offer compensation has become more confusing (and less small market friendly)
My goal is to simplify here. Previously, if a player’s contract expired his previous team could extend a qualifying offer (a one-year deal with the monetary value equivalent to a top-125 player salary.) If a player turned down the offer and signed with another team, that team then had to forfeit their first round pick in the next draft. It was an effective system to benefit small market teams that couldn’t afford their young stars.
There were problems with the system though. Teams began to see the value of extending QO’s to middle-tier players in order to receive a valuable first round pick for a non-superstar talent. But when the likes of Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales turned down these offers and saw that they had no bidders because of the expensive first round tag attached to them, issues arose. Players, in search of maximizing their paychecks throughout their union, demanded an amendment to the previous setup.
The new changes were agreed upon.
A player must sign a $50 million deal in order for any compensation to be given. If the deal is below $50 no copensation will be given.
If the team that signs the player (assuming rule #1 is true) is under the luxury tax ($189 million) then they will relinquish a 3rd round draft pick.
If the team that signs the player (assuming rule #1 is true) is over the luxury tax they will give the compensation of a 2nd round and 5th round draft pick.
Quick note: Only 4 teams exceeded the luxury tax this past season.
5. International free agency just got weird.
Previously, teams were given pools of money to spend towards international free agency. These pools were essentially soft caps. If a team wanted to sign a player that exceeded this amount of allotted money, they would pay the relatively minor financial penalties and sign the player to a market-competitive deal. These restrictions were only in place for players 23 and younger or who hadn’t played five consecutive seasons with their current club.
Now the young international players find themselves is a conundrum. Each team now has a $6 million hard cap for their international spending for players 25 years or younger. This means that we’ll see even less young international talent than we already do in the future game. So the likes of the 22-year old Japanese Babe Ruth (Shohei Otani) will either take a 3,000% pay cut from the projected $200 million contract OR will have to wait 2 more years before playing in the world’s greatest league. It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone that isn’t one of the 30 billionaires that own a major league baseball team.
The biggest takeaway here is that we will have strike-free baseball through 2022 now. And given its’ past *cough* 1994, this isn’t something just take for granted. If you have any questions or concerns don’t hesitate to ask me. I’d be delighted to answer anything to the best of my knowledge. Thanks for reading!
Below I have listed the top 20 available free agents. The teams and contract numbers are mere predictions I have set forth. Enjoy!
1. Yoenis Cespedes (OF) – Mets. Five years, $130MM. Last year Cespedes, 30, bet on himself by signing a short term contract and now he’s headed to the cashier with an armload of chips in toe. I peg him to be the highest paid free agent this offseason by at least 20 million dollars. And while the Mets let him reach the open market, look for them to be the highest bidders. They known just how valuable he is to their offense. Meanwhile other suitors will include: the Nationals, Giants, Dodgers, and Astros.
2. Edwin Encarnacion (DH) – Red Sox. Four years, $92MM. Encarnacion, 34 in January, is every bit the top offensive player available this offseason. However given his age and positional limitations, look for Eddy to get somewhere in the range of 3-4 years at 20-24 mil per. I feel extremely confident that I’ve got the correct team here though. With David Ortiz retiring after the Red Sox fell to the Indians last fall, a huge hole in their lineup exists at the DH spot. Encarnacion
would allow the youthful Sox to not miss a beat offensively. Other suitors: Rangers, Orioles, Astros, and Yankees.
3. Aroldis Chapman (RP) – Nationals. Five years, $85MM. Chapman, 28, has stated that he wants to become the first 100 million dollar relief pitcher. Join the club bro. I don’t think he’ll get that much money, but I do think he’ll get paid. Nobody on the planet can throw a baseball faster than Aroldis Chapman. The lefty’s electric fastball has led to eye-popping numbers since 2012: a 1.84 ERA with a ridiculous 15.7 K/9 in 313 2/3 regular season innings. The interesting aspect here is what happens to Kenley Jansen. The two are elite relievers, both in the open market of free agency, and if one of them gets an irrational offer then the other has serious bargain-ability. I don’t see it going down that way though. I feel like there are 5 teams vying for three top tier relievers (Mark Melacon included.) And when that happens, typically the teams quell their insanity and rationalize taking the other guy if negotiations fall through. For years now the Nationals have tried to figure out the back-end of their ‘pen. I think they finally take what many believe is the sure thing and ink Chapman to the largest contract in relief pitcher history. Other suitors: The Cubs, Giants, Yankees, and Dodgers.
4. Kenley Jansen (RP) – Dodgers. Five years, $80MM. Jansen, 29, is the 1b to Chapman’s 1a this off-season. The Dodgers brought him up through the minors after they converted the former catcher down at the single-a level. I know that there are rumors floating that he’s going elsewhere but I don’t buy it. The Dodgers love him. Let me re-phrase that. The highest budget team in the game loves him. Granted, they were unsuccessful in getting a deal done this past year. Therefore should the Dodgers balk at a ridiculous contract for Jansen, the Cubs, Giants, Yankees, and Nationals will be next in line.
5. Justin Turner (3B) – Dodgers. Four years, $76MM. Turner blossomed into a star for the Dodgers after they signed him to a minor league deal. Turner, 32, finally took the long awaited step of turning his double proficiency into a barrage of 27 home runs. His defensive efforts, along with the power surge, allowed him to post a free agent best 5.6 WAR. The Dodgers basically have to re-sign him as they have no other alternative option. Other suitors: The Giants, Angels, Red Sox, and Nationals.
6. Jeremy Hellickson (SP) – Angels. Five years, $70MM. Hellickson, 29, was the Phillies’ best pitcher this past year with a 3.71 ERA in 189 innings. They opted not to deal him at the deadline and just offer him the qualifying offer in hopes of a first round pick instead. If you need a player comp for Hellickson just look at Ian Kennedy. He’s a guy with good stuff that will eat innings from the starting rotation. And just like Kennedy, Hellickson’s main bugaboo is the long ball. If he can find himself a spacious ballpark he could be in for a real solid career. Given that he is probably the best pitcher in this uber weak free agent class look for Hellickson to draw more money than he’s actually worth. The Angels are in desperate need of starting pitching and have a little bit more money to spend this year as some of their dead money is finally off the books. If they don’t snag him I’d expect the likes of: the Braves, Rangers, Astros, Marlins, Orioles, and pretty much any other team in the game to come calling.
7. Dexter Fowler (OF) – Giants. Four years, $58MM. Fowler, 30, is re-entering free agency this year after signing just a one-year deal with the Cubs last year. He led all free agents with a .393 on-base percentage in 2016 and was a central cog to the potent Cubs offense this past year. Fowler does have a qualifying offer attached to him (so any non-Cubs team to sign him would have to relinquish their first round pick for the upcoming 2017 draft) which could dock his value slightly. The Cubs very well could offer Fowler a multi-year contract in the aftermath of their historic World Series Championship, but I believe they are willing to let him walk and give their young outfielders a chance to prove themselves. That’s why I have Fowler tentaively pegged with the Giants. He fits the mold of the outfielders that Bochy loves to have and he would definitely lengthen a lineup that was somehwhat limited this past year. Other suitors: The Cardinals, Nationals, Blue Jays, Rangers, White Sox, Indians, Dodgers, Mets, Phillies, and Mariners.
8. Mark Trumbo (OF/DH) – Rockies. Four years, $62MM. For whatever reason this 30 year-old reigning AL home run champion doesn’t get any love from gm’s throughout the game (contract-wise.) Trumbo hit 95 home runs from 2011-13 and 47 this past year, yet he’s played on 3 different teams now over that 5 year span. He has the defensive capability to play a corner outfield spot as well as spot start at first base. This is why i’m able to hypothetically throw him out west. Can you imagine all the trumbombs in Coors Field!? It’s not as crazy as you would think. The core of the Rockies are hitting their prime right now and if they want to get any serious run at the playoffs with Arenado, Blackmon and Lemahiue they need to spend in free agency. Other suitors: the Orioles, Red Sox, Rangers, A’s, Giants, and Royals.
9. Ian Desmond (OF) – Rangers. Four years, $60MM. The Rangers took a calculated gamble on Desmond this past year by signing the former shortstop to a one-year/8mil contract. The gamble was that they were going to make him into an outfielder. It paid off in a big-time way to the tune of an offensive triple slash of .285/.335/.446. Now Desmond re-enters the market as a quality center fielder, rather than a defensively-challenged shortstop. Desmond’s stock has clearly risen in the last year, though he will again bear the burden of a qualifying offer. The Rangers will try and re-sign him but look for the Orioles, Astros, Angels, Mariners, White Sox, Giants, Cardinals, Indians, Dodgers, Phillies, Royals and Braves all to be in the mix as well.
10. Ivan Nova (SP) – Rangers. Four years, $52MM. Let me say this, Ivan Nova is not worth 52 million dollars. You can’t spin it to me any possible way. But given this putrid free agent starting pitcher crop, a 50+ million dollar contract is a likely outcome. Nova, 29, has a career ERA of 4.30. However a trade from New York to Pittsburgh this past season may have pushed his stock up to the second best available free agent. In his 11 starts with the Pirates Nova posted a 3.06 ERA with 3 complete games. One of these days I’m going to have a really good stretch of 11 days and make 50 million because of it.
11. Mark Melancon (RP) – Giants. Four years, $52MM. Melancon, 32 in March, is the 1c reliever available in free agency this winter. He’s not going to strike out guys at the same rate as Chapman or Jansen, but he’s equally as effective. Unfortunately for Melancon the lack of strikeouts will cost him money. A smart franchise realizes this isn’t a huge issue given the strong track record he possesses. This is where the Giants strike. San Francisco believes they would’ve eliminated the Cubs had their bullpen done its’ part. They’ll lock that up with this move right here. If they fail, the Cubs, Dodgers, Nationals, and Yankees would be among the top suitors.
12. Jose Bautista (OF/DH) – Blue Jays. Three years, $51MM. With the Blue Jays already inking Kendrys Morales to a multi-year deal they will have to be sure that Bautista is healthy enough to play RF for an entire season before completing this deal. Bautista is the counter argument to betting on yourself. In February, massive numbers were floated regarding Bautista’s asking price for an extension with the Blue Jays. Regardless of the slugger’s exact demand at that time, the 36-year-old now faces an uphill battle in getting a fourth year on his next contract. Bautista, 36, played in only 116 games this year. His power numbers declined, his right field defense remained an issue, and he comes with a qualifying offer. Still, Bautista served as the face of the Blue Jays in crushing 227 home runs from 2010-15. He’s their guy but if the Jays don’t pay, teams like the Red Sox, Orioles, Royals (!) or White Sox will enter the sweepstakes.
13. Wilson Ramos (C/DH) – White Sox. One year, $12MM. Ramos, a 29-year-old catcher, was in the midst of a breakout season when he tore his ACL and meniscus in late September. I believe he is American League bound given his knee injury. I think the White Sox take the one-year flyer and possible look to turn him into prospect at the deadline. Other suitors: the Angels, Rays, Twins, and Orioles.
14. Rich Hill (SP) – Dodgers. Three years, $45MM. Hill, 36, is awesome. His story is incredible. The former independent league pitcher completely resurrected his career when the Red Sox took a chance on him at the end of the 2015 season. He is now one of the game’s elite and is possibly the most intriguing player in free agency. His dynamic curveball is one of the best in the game, but how long will the battered arm hold up. He is fortunate to be part of this class as it should lead to a multi-year deal. With bidding wars imminent I tend to lean on the team with the most money. If the Dodgers aren’t able to pull the trigger look for the likes of the Yankees, Royals, Angels, Astros, Marlins, Red Sox, or Rangers to join in.
15. Jason Hammel (SP) – Mariners. Three years, $42MM. Hammel, 34, was posted a 3.79 ERA over two seasons for the Cubs. Yet in a surprise turn of events Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, declined the 12mil option to bring Hammel back in 2017. This is great news for Hammel as he is able to hit the watered-down pitching market this winter. Hammel is a flyball pitcher and his strikeout numbers are trending downward. I like the fit for him in the spacious confines of Safeco Field. The Mariners need to move the (space) needle towards the postseason and Hammel, at the back end of the rotation, would certainly help. Other suitors include: the Braves, Astros, Angels, Dodgers, Marlins, Phillies, Yankees, Mariners, and Rangers.
16. Matt Wieters (C) – Nationals. Three years, $39MM. Wieters, 30, is a former first round switch hitting catcher. He’s played his entire career in Baltimore but I believe that will change next spring. The O’s were reluctant to negotiate with Wieters and by not slapping the qualifying offer on him it appears they are now looking to move on. This opens the door for teams with catcher needs. Insert the Nationals. Wilson Ramos appears to be AL bound and Wieters were fill that hole immediately. If the Nats don’t get a deal done: the Braves, White Sox, Rockies, Angels, Twins and Orioles will be next in line.
17. Neil Walker (2B) – Mets. Two years, $24MM. Walker, 31, was trading to New York last winter. He went on to have a really good offensive season filling the shoes of the illustrious Daniel Murphy. A back surgery in September still lingers for Walker but the Mets appear to not be worried about it as they offered a qualifying offer to him at season’s end. The risk of a first round pick for a player coming off back surgery will loom large. The Mets are the only team I see Walker landing on.
18. Carlos Gomez (OF) – Cardinals. Three years, $36MM. Gomez, 31 in December, is a special talent. The former Twin/Brewer/Astro/Ranger is in search of a multi-year deal. He was brutal for Houston over two seasons, hitting .221/.277/.342 in 486 plate appearances while dealing with oblique, rib, and hamstring injuries. So brutal that Houston released him last August. Gomez joined the Rangers and experienced a renaissance, hitting .284/.362/.543 with eight home runs in 130 plate appearances. The Cardinals make sense here given his familiarity with the NL Central as well as their desire to stockpile outfielders. Other suitors: the Rangers, A’s, Blue Jays, White Sox, Nationals, Orioles, Indians, Dodgers, Phillies, Giants, and Mariners.
19. Michael Saunders (OF) – Orioles. Three years, $33MM. Saunders, 30 in November, was traded from the Mariners to the Blue Jays in December 2014. Saunders lit the American League on fire in the first half, making the All-Star team and hitting .281/.366/.536 with 19 home runs in 396 plate appearances through July. The opposite happened in the waning two months though, in which he hit just .186/.267/.338. Saunders is also a bad defensive outfielder. The Jays didn’t offer his a qualifying offer though, so at least he won’t cost a draft pick to sign. The Giants, Blue Jays, Indians, Phillies, White Sox, Astros, Dodgers, and Athletics are potential suitors.
20. Carlos Beltran (OF/DH) – Royals. One year, $12MM. Beltran, 40 in April, has always had an innate ability to hit. This past year he tore it up with the Yankees, but cooled off once he was traded to the Rangers. Now 17 seasons removed from his Rookie of the Year campaign in 1999, I think there’s a decent possibility he reunites with the Royals as they make a push towards a third World Series in four years. Beltran still has the ability to play right field, which has long been a need for Kansas City. However once or twice a week slotting him into the DH role would make more than enough sense for the 40 year old fringe Hall of Famer. Other suitors: the Indians, Orioles, and White Sox.
Have your own predictions? I’d love to hear them. Comment below!
Baseball, with 2,464 games played since Opening Day, now stares down the barrel of a single elimination game.
Game 7 of the World Series.
A phrase that has had far more usage in neighborhood pick-up games than in actuality now awaits us this evening. We all know the story lines and what has happened up to this point in the series. We are familiar with the teams. We have vested interest one way or another. So tonight, without any political debate, NFL game, or impeding TV scheduled, we can all just enjoy the spectacle that is Game 7 of the World Series. And when the game is said and done, one team will win, the other will wait, but baseball will shine. And for that, I’m extremely excited.
Notable Game 7’s
Oct. 10, 1945 – Tigers 9, Cubs 3 “The Curse of the Billy Goat”
The Tigers scored 5 runs in the 1st inning and Hal Newhouser went the distance. A curse was born.
Oct. 13, 1960 – Pirates 10, Yankees 9 “The Greatest Game 7” Bill Mazeroski walked to the plate, score tied at 9, and proceeded to hit the only Game 7 walk-off HR in baseball history.
Oct. 27, 1985 – Royals 11, Cardinals 0 “Saberhagen Shutout” Yeah I’m a little partial to this one. Bret saberhagen allowed 5 hits as The Royals won convincingly. The series was decided in Game 6 behind a daring 9th inning comeback and some excellent (and correct) umpire calls. Kansas City got their first World Series Championship.
Oct. 27, 1991 – Twins 1, Braves 0 (10 inn.)“A Pitcher’s Duel for the Ages” Future Hall of Famer John Smoltz and World Series MVP Jack Morris squared off in Game 7 at the MetroDome. None were disappointed. Smoltz was lifted in the 8th for Mike Stanton and eventually Alejandro Pena and Morris went the distance. And by distance, I mean all 10 innings. A gene Larking pinch-hit single walked it off for the Twins 2nd World Series Championship.
Oct. 26, 1997 Marlins 3, Indians 2 (11 inn.) “Cleveland Collapse”
The Indians led the game 2-1 heading into the bottom of the 9th. They blew the save on a Craig Counsell sacrifice fly. Then in the 11th inning Edgar Renteria walked the series off with a single up the middle. The Cleveland drought continued.
Nov. 4, 2001 Diamondbacks 3, Yankees 2 “Rivera was Human” The first World Series I distinctly remember watching every game may have been the best we’ve seen to date. The upstart Arizona Diamondback team was looking to put an end to the Yankee dynasty. Led by star starting pitchers, Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, the Diamondbacks controlled the series throughout. But their bullpen proved to be their lone bugaboo. Byung-Hyun Kim blew 2 saves in Yankee Stadium that led to the dramatic Game 7 in Arizona. With Mariano Rivera on the mound with a 1-run lead, a 4-peat seemed like a lock for the Yanks. But thanks to Tony Womack’s RBI double and Luis Gonzalez’ RBI single over a drawn in Derek Jeter, Arizona became the lone postseason blip in the illustrious career of ‘Mo.
Oct. 29, 2014 – Giants 3, Royals 2 “Madison Bumgarner” From an outside perspective, this game had it all. Unfortunately I didn’t have that perspective. Neither starting pitcher made it through 4 innings. The bullpens were electric. The atmosphere was unreal. But 2015 was better..
So what about tonight?
I’ve had 4 people ask me for my thoughts/predictions on tonight’s game. So here goes:
Chaos. Pure chaos. I could see the Cubs’ offense continuing to roll. I could see Kluber dealing yet again. But I know my hedging stance won’t win anyone over here so let me break it down with the utmost detail.
1st inning – Kluber is sharp, but the Cubs have grown familiar to him and battle. He gets out of the inning unscathed but has to work for it. 18-22 pitches.
Hendricks gives up a solo HR to Kipnis by remains unscathed by the situation and appears to settle in. 1-0 Indians.
2nd inning – Russell doubles off the wall. The Cubs manufacture him in. 1-1.
Both pitchers battle, but remain in control.
5th inning – Fowler hits a 2-out RBI double to score Baez. Schwarber walks. Bryant singles home Fowler. 3-1 Cubs.
Hendricks caves as well by walking Rajai Davis. Davis steals 2nd. Comes around to score on an RBI ground-out by Francisco Lindor. 3-2 Cubs.
6th inning – Andrew Miller replaces Corey Kluber. He’s filthy. Holds Chicago scoreless for 2.1 innings.
Kyle Hendricks is replaced by Carl Edwards Jr.. Edwards allows a solo HR to Lonnie Chisenhall. 3-3.
8th inning – Joe Maddon sees how the Cleveland bullpen is controlling the game shoots his bullet. Aroldis Chapman comes in and labors. The increased workload has taken its’ toll. 24 pitches later he strands two runners. Still tied.
(Come on, did you really think I was going to predict a 6-2 yawner?)
9th inning – Cody Allen has taken over for the Tribe. Cubs look stifled. Rizzo hits a 2-out ball caught at the warning track. Joe Buck makes notice of the wind blowing in. *Camera pans to the flags. They are blowing out.*
Jon Lester replaces Chapman. Calmly retires the side.
10th inning – The Cleveland bullpen continues to dominate.
Carlos Santana leads off with a walk. Lifted for a pinch-runner Michael Martinez. Martinez steals 2nd. He is then bunted to 3rd. The Cubs then intentionally walk the bases loaded. Jose Ramirez singles to left. The Indians win the World Series 4-3.
In all honesty, I don’t have any more clue than any of you as to what is going to happen tonight. That’s why this is all so exciting. Just enjoy the game folks! It has the makings to be one of those “notable Game 7 classics.” Thanks for reading guys!