Tag Archive | "First Game"

Mike Minor Will Turn It Around Tonight

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Mike Minor Will Turn It Around Tonight

Posted on 26 May 2013 by Trish Vignola

The Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets were left in suspended animation last night, but does anyone care? The Atlanta Braves, currently in first, have won six consecutive games. On the flip side, the New York Mets, currently in fourth (thanks to the Marlins being slightly worse), have lost six straight at home.


Nonetheless, the teams had to wait until today before seeing if both streaks would continue. They are set to complete a suspended game before meeting in the regularly scheduled one about an hour later this Saturday night. Friday’s game is tied 5-5 heading to the top of the ninth, with the Mets actually rallying to tie in the eighth in the midst of a downpour. They drew within one on a Daniel Murphy single and scoring again on a wild pitch.

“It was tough to see. As tough as it was to see, I’m sure it was tough to get a grip on the ball and footing on the mound,” Murphy said to the Associated Press. “So, equal playing field and we were really glad to tie the score up there, and we’ll come out tomorrow and see if we can win an inning.”

The ninth inning presents an interesting decision for both managers. Atlanta’s Fredi Gonzalez is considering putting Anthony Varvaro, who blew the save Friday, back on the mound. “I could even run Varvaro back out there,” Gonzalez told. “It’s like going back-to-back days.” Mets manager Terry Collins will also turn to his bullpen, as opposed to giving the ball to scheduled Saturday starter Dillon Gee to pitch in the suspended game.

Might as well give the game to Atlanta now.

“I’m going to start the game with a relief pitcher,” Collins said to the Associated Press.


“Otherwise, if the thing’s over in 10 minutes, the guy’s already warmed up, now he has to sit for an hour. That’s not what I want to happen.”

Once the first game is over, Mike Minor (5-2, 2.78 ERA) will try to put an end to his road struggles against the Mets. I hope, being that I’m starting him for my fantasy baseball team tonight. His outings have been good as of late, so I was more confident in starting him than Barry Zito. Atlanta has won his last three starts, during which the left-hander has gone 2-0 with a 1.83 ERA with 20 strikeouts over 19 2-3 innings.

Minor set a season high with nine strikeouts and surrendered two runs and three hits in six innings of a 5-2 victory over Los Angeles on Sunday. Minor didn’t get the decision in that game. Ironically, Minor has a 5.63 ERA in seven career starts versus New York.

That’s his worst against any team he’s pitched at least 15 innings against. He’s turned in a pair of solid effort in his last two matchups, allowing three runs in 13 1-3 innings, but those games came at Atlanta. Minor, who went seven innings and gave up three runs in a 7-5 win over the Mets on May 3, has gone 1-1 with an 8.04 ERA in three career starts at Citi Field.

If the Mets though insist on running Ike Davis out there, fantasy owners like myself should be in pretty good shape for a Mike Minor turnaround.

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Chaos And The Infield Fly Rule On What Might Be Chipper’s Last Night

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Chaos And The Infield Fly Rule On What Might Be Chipper’s Last Night

Posted on 06 October 2012 by Trish Vignola

Chipper Jones allowed himself to be emotional during the final regular season game. The support fans displayed during the final regular season-games of his career was for lack of a better word…overwhelming. Nonetheless, as the Braves prepared to play today’s Wild Card playoff against the Cardinals at Turner Field, Jones did not seem the least bit phased as he could conceivably be playing the final game of his storied career.

“I was riding in with my mom and dad today, and I turned around and told my dad, ‘This is why I know I’m ready to go,’” Jones said to MLB.com. “I’m not even nervous. I don’t know whether that is being prepared, you know, and being confident. But usually, first game of the playoffs, I’m nervous before the workout the day before.”

As Jones prepared for the 93rd postseason game of his career, he focused on experiencing a new challenge that he does not support from a competitive standpoint. This matchup between the Braves and Cards serves as the first one-game Wild Card game. This is the result of Major League Baseball’s decision to add an additional Wild Card team to each league this year. This would have benefited Atlanta last year, when St. Louis leapfrogged the Braves on the regular season’s final night to gain the only available Wild Card entry.

The new arrangement however could produce a sour and abrupt end to Jones’ career. After collecting 94 wins in the regular season, the Braves have been presented with this winner-take-all matchup against the 88-win Cardinals. The winner advances to the National League Division Series against the Nationals, and the loser begins the offseason.

As the bottom of the 8th inning came around, Atlanta found itself down by three and in the middle of a pretty crazy play. The infield fly rule was called. Andrelton Simmons‘s pop-fly to short left field split a disoriented Pete Kozma, who’d called for it, and a loping Matt Holliday. If you watched the play, it looked like an obvious bases-loading hit on Kozma’s mental error. However, the left field umpire called the infield fly rule. Here’s the problem. It was called both very late and outside the infield, leaving Simmons out and the Turner Field crowd in a frenzy.

Players had to dodge trash on their way into their respective dugouts. This is probably not how Chipper envisioned his possible last game. It was a bad call, but unlike most bad calls it stopped the game dead in its tracks. The delay stretched 18 minutes while stadium staff tried to clear the field and quiet the erupting crowd. The Braves put the game under protest.

The television audience was left wondering if they were about to witness, “Disco Night Part 2” as a game-tying at-bat—bottom of the eighth, two outs, two on, the score still 6-3 was left in limbo. The Braves ended the inning with runners on base.

On a night overshadowed by the kind of officiating controversy reserved for NFL replacement referees, I wonder if Chipper is rethinking his position. No one wants to go out on a game like this.

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Guest Post: Retrosheet is Still Retro Cool

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Guest Post: Retrosheet is Still Retro Cool

Posted on 31 July 2012 by Guest Writer

By Jeff Polman

Take a trip back to July 18, 1958. It’s a Friday night in Los Angeles, and 10-year-old David Smith is at the Memorial Coliseum to attend his very first game, between the Phillies and Dodgers. His hero is Sandy Koufax, years before he became a great pitcher, and this is far from Sandy’s best performance. In the first inning, he strikes out two but walks four and gets yanked from the action.  Maybe he is just under the weather, because he starts the next night and goes seven and a third innings.

The Dodgers won that Friday night 8-6, lost the next night, and for a long time, David Smith thirsted for the actual accounts of those games.

It was undoubtedly his inspiration for the birth of Retrosheet.

Fifty-four years later, Dave Smith’s non-profit Web site has researched and catalogued over 120,000 major league baseball games for our pleasure and historical use. In some cases you’ll just find box scores, in many others, detailed play-by-play. Because of Retrosheet, in less than a minute you can learn that the first batter Smith saw Koufax face was Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn; that there were 24, 532 other people at the Coliseum and the game took two hours and fifty-five minutes; that Chico Fernandez’s fifth inning homer off Johnny Klippstein went over the short left field screen; and that Shag Crawford and Jocko Conlan were two of the umpires.

Sean Forman’s staggeringly enormous Baseball Reference site can also get you this information, though as Smith relates, a lot of their game data comes from Retrosheet.  A little over a month ago, Retrosheet released box scores for the 1916 and 1917 seasons, and play-by-play details for 1927 and 1947. Although their research is done on a volunteer basis, they have between fifteen and twenty people working on various projects at a given time, so you can expect a constant stream of discoveries ahead.

The first time a friend shared the Retrosheet link with me, I was immediately taken by the site’s lack of visual pizzazz—to be honest, it has no pizzazz whatsoever—but also by the easy-to-navigate passage into Retrosheet’s historical fact library. That the old school TextEdit look of the thing absolutely never changes is part of its charm. As Smith puts it: “Once we found a form that we thought was easy to navigate, we decided not to fiddle with it just for the sake of novelty.”

As a place to instantly find countless baseball facts, it is also one of the greatest Internet time sucks ever created. Dead of winter and you’re stuck at your desk on lunch break and feel like taking in a game? No problem. I’ll do it right now. Let’s see…going to their “link-block” of years, shutting my eyes and clicking my mouse on…1936.  Dropping down to the yearly calendar to hit Saturday August 8th…Okay, the Browns and Tigers split a twinbill in Detroit, with St. Louis scoring seven in the 8th and two in the 9th to take the nightcap, with Jim Bottomley driving in four and Moose Solters three! That was easy.

How about just a quick check of the American Association standings on July 25, 1884? Ah yes, the Columbus Buckeyes are still in second place with a .684 winning percentage and a +114 run differential, but just a half game behind the second place Louisville Eclipse!

Naturally, the first thing I did when I discovered Retrosheet was locate the box score and play-by-play of the first game I attended, 1963 at Fenway Park with the Yankees. (As an aside, framed copies of first game box scores make great gifts for friends and family members.) Retrosheet doesn’t have play-by-plays for every season, but some of the earlier accounts from say, 1921, are a joy to read.  Just so you know, on Saturday April 30 at the Polo Grounds, Giants catcher Earl Smith was ejected in the 6th inning after a called ball for “throwing his glove down.”

Of course, digging up minutiae like this is incredibly time consuming for the Retrosheet team. As Smith says, “The release of play-by-play accounts takes longer than I would like, but it is essential that files not be posted for the public until they have been rigorously proofed. I do not want to be in the position of making retractions.”

Retrosheet formally began in 1989 and was incorporated as a non-profit in 1994, one year after the site was launched. They have five board members and a “webmaster”, and hold their annual meeting at the SABR conference, a group that values the findings of Retrosheet like no other.

When I attended the recent SABR event in Minneapolis, I wandered by the small open room where Retrosheet was starting its meeting. I had heard Dave Smith’s lively presentation two days earlier on the dramatic rise and fall between leagues of stolen base attempts from 1947 to the present, and now he was chairing the modest gathering of Retrosheeters, dressed in his signature Dodgers jersey, his Santa Clausian features lighting up another room. But I wasn’t a Retrosheet member, didn’t really want to hear a “report from the treasurer,” and wandered away.

An hour later during a panel discussion, I was visiting them again—but back on my phone to look up a box score. For me, Retrosheet remains not just a great resource tool, but a trusty digital baseball Wonderland, a place to happily tumble into at any time. Thanks, David.

Jeff Polman writes fictionalized baseball replay blogs, his current endeavor being Mystery Ball ’58. His first such blog, “1924 and You Are There!” has been published by Grassy Gutter Press and is available on Amazon.

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Presenting the Newest Buffalo Bison…Lucas Duda?

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Presenting the Newest Buffalo Bison…Lucas Duda?

Posted on 30 July 2012 by Trish Vignola

The excitement surrounding Matt Harvey’s stellar debut overshadowed another Mets debut last night. This one albeit it a dubious one. Kind of representative of the entire Mets season, huh?

I’m talking about Lucas Duda and his free fall from the starting line up of the big club in Queens. The same night Matt Harvey made his star making turn with the Mets, Duda made his debut as a Buffalo Bison. Lucas Duda started for Triple-A Buffalo Thursday night playing right field.

Mets manager Terry Collins insisted this was not a deviation from his initial plan. Nonetheless, Duda will play left field and first base as well. Collins told Buffalo manager Wally Backman that he didn’t really care where Duda played, as long as he resumed hitting.

As of right now… he’s barely hitting my weight and that’s not a gross exaggeration.

“It’s about Lucas Duda finding that stroke,” Collins said before Thursday’s game against Arizona. The organization felt Duda, who went 0-for-4 while leaving six men on base in his first game as a Bison, too often carried his defensive lapses with him to the plate. Translation? He’s a head case.

Duda was batting just .190 (19 for 100) with four extra-base hits in his past 29 games. He was New York’s starting right fielder entering the season. At the point of his demotion, he was batting .241 with 12 home runs and 44 RBIs this year.

Duda’s defense in right has been subpar as well, contributing to the decision to send him down. Collins said the organization plans to move Duda back to his normal positions, first base and left field, during his stint in the minors.

The Mets really know how to collect them. Am I right?

To compensate for his fielding issues, Collins felt that Duda swung for the fences. When did that approach work for anyone? Where was anyone to notices this 20 some games ago. Over his last 20 games, Duda hit .157 with a .495 on base plus slugging percentage. Duda needs that trend to change in the minors.

The team is out of time.

With that in mind, Collins told Backman he didn’t mind Duda playing first base every now (especially if it helps to build his ego). Collins wants Duda to get his mind off his fielding every day.

“He’s got to be comfortable,” Collins said. “So when he gets in that batter’s box, that becomes the primary focus. So he can’t be worried about making a mistake defensively.”

The Mets will platoon a combination of Scott Hairston, Jordany Valdespin and Kirk Nieuwenhuis in right depending on who is swinging the bat well.

“We gotta go with the hot hand right now,” Collins said.

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Players on the mend: 6 players returning from injury after the Break

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Players on the mend: 6 players returning from injury after the Break

Posted on 12 July 2012 by T.J. McDonald

With this being the eve of the second half of the baseball season, today I will be profiling six players returning from injury either immediately or shortly after the All Star break. Some of these players may be on your own team’s disabled list. Others may be good trade targets and some of them may even be available for pick up via your league’s waiver wire. All of these players can help and impact any fantasy team for the remainder of the fantasy season.

The first three players profiled below could quite possibly be available on your league’s waiver wire for pick up with the next three either returning from your DL or could be a strong potential trade target with their owners possibly becoming frustrated with the players injury woes this season.

Lorenzo Cain- OF Kansas City Royals, percent owned: 2% ESPN, 7% Yahoo & 27% CBS

Cain was highly touted coming into the season having had a great AAA season last year, hitting .312, 16 SBs,16 HRs and 81 RBIs and following this up with a strong spring.  Expectations were high in Kansas City for him entering the year as the starting CF but unfortunately things have not gone as hoped. Five games into the season he was injured running into the center field fence in Oakland  and  has been on the DL ever since.  His initial injury was a left groin strain, then tearing his hip flexor in the same left leg while on his initial rehab assignment in April, causing him to be placed on the 60 day DL.  He seems to finally be healthy and after a recent rehab assignment where things seemed to have gone well, he was activated from the 60 day DL and is scheduled to make a full return and start Friday, Kanas City Royals first game after the All Star break. He is under 10% on Yahoo, ESPN & CBS and it is highly likely he is available on your league’s wavier wire and could be a valuable waiver wire pick up for those needing immediate outfield. Projected return July 13th.

Neftali Feliz- SP/RP Texas Rangers, percent owned: 37.8% ESPN, 40% Yahoo & 76% CBS

Feliz was converted from the team’s closer to a starting pitcher this season. While things started off fairly well, on May 21st he was placed on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation and has been on the DL ever since. Feliz was lights out as a closer and had 40 Saves and 32 SVs in 2010 and 2011 respectively.  He was 3-1 with a 3.16 ERA, 37 Ks and 23 Walks starting this season.  He recently threw a bullpen session July 7th and seems to be on track for a late July return.  At this time it is unclear if he will return as a starter or a reliever. With him being under 41% owned in both Yahoo & ESPN, there is a possibility he will be available on your league’s waiver wire. While his ownership is higher on CBS he could be a strong trade target if the owner is worried about his uncertain role upon  return. One thing to keep an eye on is what role he will  return to. If he returns as a starter as all indications are recently pointing to, he is a good fantasy play. Even if he returns strictly in a relief role in leagues that count holds, he will still be a valuable asset. He is scheduled to throw to live batting today and if there are no setbacks he is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment and pitch two innings this Sunday the 15th of July with anther three innings Sunday the 18th of July. Projected return late July.

Lance Berkman- 1B/OF St. Louis Cardinals, percent owned: 58.7% ESPN, 64% Yahoo & 82% CBS

Berkman had a great bounce back season last year hitting .301, 31 HRS and 94 RBIs.  After bouncing back from his 2010 struggles many thought he was back to his old form with many websites even having him ranked in their preseason top 100.  However 13 games into the season he went down with a torn meniscus in his right knee.  After surgery and an extensive rehab of the knee he is projected to begin a rehab assignment after the break with a return shortly after. Berkman has recently stated he would not need a rehab assignment but the team has announced he will be going on one before returning to the club. Although he is 58% owned  or higher there is a chance he may be available via your league’s waiver wire or could make for a good seond half trade target. Projected return late July early August.

Carl Crawford- OF Boston Red Sox, percent owned: 71% Yahoo, 80.8% ESPN & 88% CBS

By now most of you know the problems Crawford has had in the last year and a half since he signed his 7 year $142 million contract before last season.  He has only played in a total of 130 games  in 2011 & 2012, missing 32 games last year while hitting only .255  and has missed all of this year so far.  However in 2010 he hit .307, 47 SBs, 19HRs & 90 RBIs.  It is also important to mention he was very durable prior to last year. He had wrist surgery in the off season that caused him to miss the start of the season with his elbow also feeling discomfort at this same time. He was recently diagnosed with a sprained UCL, an injury that will most likely require minor to possibly major surgery this off season, with most even predicting Tommy John surgery.  He recently embarked on a rehab assignment but did have a minor setback unrelated to his UCL sprain: a tweaked groin He is expected to be back rehabbing in Pawtucket today. With him being over 70 % owned he is probably not available on your league’s waiver wire but there is a small chance he may be, also being a high risk high-reward trade target especially in dynasty/keeper leagues. His owner could be becoming frustrated with his poor play last year and injury woes this season. Projected return July 16th.

Emilio Bonifacio- 3B/SS/OF Miami Marlins, percent owned: 76% Yahoo, 88% CBS & 90.8% ESPN

Bonifacio is coming off his best season in the big leagues hitting .296, 5Hr, 36 RBis and 40 SBs last year. In 39 games this season he hit .268, 6 RBIs and 20 SBs with the 20 SBs leading the league at the time of his injury. He has been out of action since May 19th with  strained ligament damage in his left thumb which required surgery. While Bonifacio is over 75% owned and won’t be available on most league’s waiver wire, he would make a strong trade target as he is eligible at 3B, SS and OF and is a strong source of steals for teams needing help in the steals category. He is projected to return Friday, July 13th.

Jacoby Ellsbury- OF Boston Red Sox, percent owned: 94% Yahoo, 98% CBS & 99.7% ESPN

Ellsbury is coming off a career year. Last year he hit .321, 39 SBs, 32 HR and 105 RBIs and finished 2nd in the American League MVP voting. This year, however, has not been the same, he struggled out of the gate hitting only .192, 3RBIS with zero HRs and SBs. He then sustained a dislocated shoulder only 7 games into the season and has not played since.  While Ellsbury could now be considered injury prone with this being his second major injury in three years, he should come back 100% healthy and contribute to the Red Sox immediately. His 20 day rehab assignment is set to expire July 19th but it was announced Tuesday that he would be activated Friday, July 13th. Being 94% owned or higher he will not be available via your waiver wire but would be a solid buy low trade target, as well as big boost to any team that is currently stashing them on their DL. Projected return July 13th, July 19th at the latest.

Whether the players listed above are available on your leagues waiver wire, coming off your own DL or are a trade target for your roster, they all should be back very shortly after the break and can strongly impact any and all fantasy teams. Feel free to comment in the comments section and as always feel free to follow me on twitter @FantasyzrTJ to continue this discussion as well as getting updates on fantasy baseball and baseball in general.

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