Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Shifting Gears

Despite popular belief, we are all still alive. I don't know about the rest of you, but I needed a break after that Miami-Dallas series. I took a few days off. Not three, not four, not five, not six...not seven. Throwing the NHL Stanley Cup Finals into the mix was almost more than I could handle, but I pushed through. I think in a daze I might have even scored a goal on Roberto Luongo, but I don't have time to look back on all the goals he allowed while everyone insisted he is the best goaltender in the Western Conference.

That's all beside the point. Realignment. In baseball. I dare say there are few people more excited about this that I am. Maybe Bud Selig reads my stuff (and is trying to steal my idea), but I doubt it. As a matter of fact, I'm still trying to figure out how he plans on having five teams from each league make the playoffs. Unless the team with the best record automatically advances to the LCS, I don't see how that would work, but hey, who am I to ask questions? I'm just a fan.

Of course, that is not going to stop me from putting my opinions out there in the unlikely event that Mr. Selig comes across our lowly corner of the blogosphere. Now, anyone who has read back far enough, knows that I hate the fact that the Brewers are in the National League, but that isn't the main issue here today. That just stems from my general dislike of Bud Selig (who chose to move the team that he owns to a different league in order to boost revenue) and the fact that the leagues are uneven. I like symmetry. Sue me.

The word on the street is that if Major League Baseball does eventually realign, the Astros will jump to the AL West in an effort to foster an in-state rivalry with the Rangers. It certainly is not the stupidest idea I have ever heard. I also read that the Marlins could be in the mix to switch leagues (more on that later). I'm all for rivalries and making the game better for the fans, I'm just not sure Dallas-Houston is the way to go. But who else could it really be? Marlins-Rays? Royals-Cardinals? Dodgers-Angels? None of those really get me excited either. Of course, the Twins and the Brewers could be a nice rivalry, but I think we all know that isn't going to happen. However it works out, I'm just glad Major League Baseball is finally going to do this. I just wish they would do it according to my plan.

It seems the new MLB plan is to break up the divisions entirely and just have two leagues. I wouldn't go that far. I'd say to keep the three divisions in each league, five teams per division. Three division winners still make the playoffs, plus one wild-card (start the debate). However, if MLB wants to place less emphasis on divisions, why not cut down on the number of games played against one's division. Realistically, each team would have to play more divisional games to justify keeping the divisions and crowning champions, but why so many? Four series, two home, two away, for a total of twelve games. So far, that's 48. Every team should also play every other team in two series. Quick math would give you a total of 198 games, but I'm shooting for less. Here's how I would do it.

As we all know, I hate interleague play because it's meaningless. And as Brewers' manager Ron Roenicke pointed out the other day, it tends to be unfair. This is starting to sound an awful lot like something I've read before. So here's what I propose: every AL team plays every NL team twice, one series at home, once on the road. The catch, however, is that each series can only be two games. If anyone is adventurous enough to attempt to make up a mock schedule for a season, more power to you, and you might even discover that what I am suggesting is impossible, though I don't think it is. So 60 more games gets us to 108. The other 60 (yes, I am adding 6 games to the current schedule) come from playing the other ten teams in your league, but outside your division, six games each.

With this schedule, teams would be playing a totally balanced schedule. No one would complain that interleague isn't fair. Roenicke can go back to being a nobody. Selig can keep his Brewers right where he wants them. We are GUARANTEED a World Series rematch, and preview, every season. Rivalries stay intact. New rivalries can actually form. And if it is the Marlins (who are changing their name to the Miami Marlins next season) switch to the American League, the hologram from Back to the Future Part II could actually be right, and we could see the Cubs defeat Miami in the 2015 World Series.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

This Guy - "OK So I Needed a Day to Chill! Back Off!" Edition

I know what some of you are thinking: That “general sports blog named after a baseball reference” (which makes no sense to be general, right? “Focus on baseball!” Yeah I get that sometimes) really sucks for not posting about the NY status in each of the NHL and NBA playoffs. Well folks, you’re in for some treat then. I needed a day to calm down, realize they are both still only sports (and one of which I didn’t care about all that much since #33 played center for them) and yes, the “This guy will not pay my rent” principle still holds fast. By the way, the "this guy" game is still on. If you don’t write here, and can figure out all of the “this guy” pictures, you win something (to be named later). Last week’s article, I got zero replies, so I don’t expect much from you idiots. Impress me!

Blogging 101 – most bloggers who have 50 readers or less (a very generous number for us because on our busiest days we are around 30-50 unique views) write purely for themselves (therapy) and a few other die hard friends (in this case other writers I already talk sports with - group therapy). I’m fine with that – this will help me center my chi. Unless of course more of you jerks post all over my facebook page about how my teams suck and yours rule. I will find, and kill you. This is therapy for me, not anger management. (Just kidding! Bring it! But not like this guy did his last fight, I mean really bring it!)

Okay, enough prequel. Dammit the NY teams completely shit the bed! As you all know, basketball is not my forte. I watched the Knicks 8 times this year (including all 4 playoff games, not in entirety). This is 8 more times than the last 5 years combined, and probably the last 10 as well. It is time to relax for Knicks fans for a change. The only thing they’ll miss from that blockbuster trade to get Melo are the draft picks. You now have 2 superstar players to put pieces around. If CP3 REALLY signs after next season, they will be a true big 3. Aside: I hate that – “big 3.” You know, in basketball we have had a big 3, a new big 3, a fab 4, the twin towers, etc… you know what they called Jordan’s bulls? Kobe’s Lakers? Nothing I can think of... except the word DYNASTY has bounced around a lot. Sorry, I digress. The front office needs to insert a few people to the team are not on the current team at all. You know the kind who have actual talent and poise (minus a select VERY few who can stay). Bottom line – the road looks better ahead. The Knicks have screwed the pooch before though, just ask the garden faithful if they like this guy anymore. So don’t completely relax, just relax a bit.

DISCLAIMER: (This next section may get long winded as this was my favorite team in awhile this year and I am sad to see them go – skip it and just look for a clue if you’re playing “this guy.” You’ve been warned if you hate hockey talk.)

I have read every NY Rangers article under the sun since their game 5 bounce a day before the Knicks’ exit. Some are way too negative, some are way too positive. I am going to tell it how it is in my eyes. Our coach John Tortorella was just reportedly given a 3 year extension. I really like this front office move. Torts is able to extract all of the talent from these kids that is possible. This is HIS team. He shows patience with them, and seems to put them in a position to succeed, only to demand perfection and settle for a hard work ethic. He knows what he is working with – in fact at the exit interviews, he simply said the words at one point: “We need more talent.” However, this is not to say the team didn’t earn all 44 of their regular season wins. Arguably, they “should have won” at least 1 other game against the Caps as well (and gotten me to game 6 at MSG!). I’m not all for “we beat ourselves” as much as I am for “we let them beat us,” but the series is over, and Ovechkin is still a piece of Russian trash - like this guy (character name is fine in the movie). This team of line 2 to line 4 forwards (with the exception of 1 and maybe 1/2) and a group of good and young defensive defenseman with a WORLD of potential in front of them, achieved more than what a lot of people pegged them for. If Gabby can right himself for next season, and everyone else progresses naturally and can stay major injury free for next season, we are looking at a 2-3 round dive into these same playoffs. There is speculation they will be (and perhaps should be) in the Brad Richards bidding war. Torts coached him to a cup with Tampa, and will want him to anchor the Gabby line at center (since no one else at center can do it). Richards can be a playmaker and put the puck in the net – he would be a great first line guy to pair with Gaborik and someone like Dubi or Callahan (if you want to break them up as a solid second line). This changes the team instantly. However, the team must also bring back Cally & Dubi, presumably on raises (be about 5-6 mil of the 16 mil total cap space), A.A. would be smart to resign as well, and guys like Boyle, Sauer and Fedotenko are FA as well. What will be interesting is who stays and goes next season. A team in surplus of middle of the pack players will ditch some of them. I'm sure someone won't be here that we all will miss (Gilroy? Christensen? Boyle?). And don’t forget Boogy’s contract that was on the IR the entire season (seemingly) after getting rocked in the head a few times in a fight. Need to clear way for that waste of money don’t we? Especially if we want to go after Richards for real. This guy should be crucified for that contract as well as many others. Long story a bit shorter: this season, while disappointing we couldn’t play upset to a true contender like I had hoped, the Rangers ended up pretty much where I expected them. Check here (http://sterlingshakers.blogspot.com/2010/09/breaking-ice.html) if you don’t believe me. Just read the last paragraph of that post. It was my first ever SS post, and it is proving that I am more of a prophet than a blogger. I am awesome and will not grant you any wishes unless you play the "this guy" game. Oh, for the record, I am very happy with the season as a whole for the NYR, and think they can honestly only better themselves from here. Watching these kids progress in their careers has been a treat and I really just hope it amounts to something in the future soon.

A short conclusion to this whole mess: Garden faithful alike, both on ice and the hard wood, have the future to look forward to for each team. Will we ever see 1994 again? I’m not sure, but in the near future, we have plenty to be hopeful for. Heck, maybe they’ll say 1994 was a joke compared to 201*. When it all boils down to it, at least we’re not this guy or his team’s fans. We’d have a lot more to bitch about.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Here's a short list of quirky things I have noticed and a few things that just get under my skin. A lot of them deal with the way things are named.

Why is it that in football, the halfback plays behind the fullback? Shouldn't he be between the fullback and the quarterback? I'm fine with the lack of a 75%-back, seeing as that role is usually played by Cedric Benson.

When a team changes cities, and the original name is meaningful to the region, there should be a new name. For example, there is no reason for the basketball team in Utah to be called the Jazz. When they were the New Orleans Jazz, it made sense. I doubt there is as big a jazz culture in Salt Lake City. I also doubt very much that most of the residents of Los Angeles have ever even seen a lake, so maybe when the team moved from Minneapolis, there should have been a name change.

The Brewers should have never switched to the National League. I'll never let that one go. See here for more.

Hockey is played on ice. That's just always seemed odd to me.

If I hear the word “adversity” on SportsCenter anymore, my head may very well explode. I've never done a word count or anything, but that has to be the most over-used term on ESPN. Everyone who has ever had a cold is praised for “fighting through adversity.” It dulls the idea for when people have real problems. Anthony Robles, the kid from Arizona State who won the wrestling championship even though he only has one leg, went through adversity. The fact that Ohio State will be without its quarterback and head coach for a few games is not adversity—it's a punishment for breaking the rules.

The ACC is the only one of the six major college conferences to not have a team nicknamed the Wildcats.

What's with the Blue Jays' pitchers wearing single-digit uniform numbers? Josh Towers wore #7 a few years ago and now Kyle Drabek (who was part of the Halladay deal) wears #4. Before these two guys, the last pitcher I can remember wearing a single-digit number was Jeff Juden (yes, I had to look up his name, but I remembered he wore #7 for the Indians). According to Wikipedia, David Wells wore #3 for the Red Sox, though I don't recall the Boomer doing so. By the way, Drabek's father Doug wore #15 for most of his career (except when he was with the Yankees since Munson's #15 is retired).

That's all for now. Enjoy the playoffs.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

This Guy - First Edition

The ball season is now in swing for 2 weeks, the NHL playoffs kicked off last night, and the NBA playoffs are about to start. I figure it is about time I cover some topics briefly that are trending. Instead of going with my allerative term "trending topics" I went with a surprise because I am in a good mood today. I think I will call this segment “this guy” and see if it catches on. If you know the names of all of “these guys” – please feel free to name them all in the comments section or on facebook/twitter. The first to do so will win something fun pertaining to Sterling Shakers. No, you can’t be a writer here and participate you jerks.

The Red Sox are awful. Not even the people who predicted they won’t win the AL East (who are rarer than perfect March Madness brackets it seems) could predict they’d start this bad. Is it really early? Yes. Does this pose a long term problem for the club? Not entirely at all. If we need to revisit this topic again in June, they have problems then. Personally, I’m also shocked at how the “AL’s Best Rotation” (as dubbed by others) is shitting the bed, and Carl Crawford hasn’t done anything noteworthy. The talent will come around if it is really there, and there is no denying that it is. Boston is probably screaming for another series against the Yankees ASAP (it always brings out the best in them). Hey Sox fans, at least this guy isn’t your manager anymore.

The Rays are (by their record) slightly less awful. I would actually take, with good odds for you, pretty much any wager you want to make that the Red Sox finish with a better record than at least the Rays. That isn't what I am here to talk about. Manny Ramirez is the most famous quitter since this guy. I could have went so many ways (there were great baseball pics of him)– but the 45 NBA jersey was like “Really man?” Anyways, let’s not pretend Manny was at his prime like the first retirement of "that guy", or like Barry Sanders in 1999 (in case you're confused as to who "that guy" is - if so please play in traffic). He had a great second half 2 or 3 years ago with LA, but that was the last anyone saw of Manny's awesome bat. The fact is that if his 50 game suspension a few years back didn’t do it, this definitely put him on a lot of people’s S-lists for the history books. And with no explanation other than “I don’t wanna be suspended, or prove them wrong (cause I can't), so I quit.” Tell me you believe Manny just wasn’t in it for the money and personal gain any more and I have a bridge for sale.

The NY Rangers (it will be brief) are down 0-1 in their series against #1 ranked Washington. Ovechkin (read as: fuckfacedouchebag) and his mates outmatched the Rangers last night but still only won by an OT goal. I love the way this Rangers team plays defense, (think kamikaze style at the puck), and if Hank can be that solid in net, we have a great chance still to play upset to Washington. We just need to wake up the sticks and put some pucks in the net. Perhaps we can talk this guy into getting us his secret recipe to wake up his bats to use on the sticks. (character name please, not his real name).

Lastly, my Yankees are doing better than I pegged them to out of the gate. AJ is 3-0 through 2 and ½ really shaky outings – but we’ll take it. Our bullpen only completely imploded once (twice perhaps - your call) so far so I’m happy about that. I will not make many specific comments to avoid going on too too long, but I am happy and extremely excited for their pen all season. I hoped Russell Martin would contribute to the offense and he has so far. Tex, Posada, and Jeter are all seemingly without a hit again for their last 200 at bats (if you listen to the media - but they're struggling a bit at the dish). The pen with Logan being useless right now and Feliciano out for a bit longer has still held up okay - but we'll be better against lefties with everyone back in form and health. They've STILL managed to win games despite the individual struggles. The team is producing as a team. When things come around and really click, you have to love the way the team will look. I’m out, like this guy. (both names please)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What do to with rejected home run balls

While at Wrigley, I inquired with one of my neighbors about what gets done with balls thrown back from the bleachers. To my disgust (but not my suprise), it seems many of the bleacher bums bring a ball with them into the stadium to throw back instead of the one they caught. I suppose that is true some of the time, but how are we to assume this is always the case? NOTHING angers me more at a baseball game than to see a loyal fan in the outfield toss a tainted home run ball back on to the field, only to have some ball ball or umpire give it to someone sitting in the box seats. GRRRRRR. Are you kidding? First off, that thing is tainted. If you are a fan of the Cubs, why would you want it? Second of all, that ball has been rejected by a fan. It should be destroyed. Personally, I'd like to see it burned shortly thereafter, perhaps during the break between innings. Could you see the annonuncement: "To ensure that this ball will never hurt the Cubs again, we are burning it, and you all are witnesses." I can tell you that if I knew the ball I threw back would be burned in effigy, I would throw it back in a heartbeat (not a home team home run, obviously). I did get an opportuinity to witness firsthand what happens to balls thrown back. Lyle Overbay hit one into the right field stands (not sure those are bleachers - they were not packed like the other bleachers were), and the ball was soon thrown back (assuming it was the same ball). It landed near the Pirates' bullpen, where the ump picked it up and handed it to a Pirate pitcher, who gave it to someone in the stands (who could have been a Pirates fan). The fact that this is not policed is disturbing to me. Why should I care about this? Because I have never gotten near a ball in my life of going to games. I KNOW how rare it is to get an opportunity to get one. For a fan to throw one back, he is giving up a LOT. Letting someone else have the ball, even some kid, is just WRONG. A burning ceremony is the only solution. Now, about those pesky people who bring balls into the game: just don't allow them to. Of course, the fascinating thing about Wrigley is, they didn't search me. I could have had all the whiskey in the world with me. Ah well, next time.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Now I know why the Cubs never win the World Series (The Art of the Heckle)

Yours truly had the privilege of sitting fifth row behind the Pirates' dugout on Saturday at (mildly) windswept Wrigley Field. It is a tiny place, even tinier than Fenway. Yes, it IS as awesome as you think it is. I wonder if the buildings across Waveland (pronounced Wavelind, not land) Avenue have to pay anything to the Cubs for the bleachers they have on top of them.

That's Waveland there in the right picture - a lot wider than you think it would be. Just over my head there, you can locate some bleachers on the building.

From the other picture, you can see how close I was to the field. In the empty seat right next to my head in the front row, an old lady was sitting keeping score when the game started. She is apparently a regular, and she kept the crowd entertained throughout.

But where was the heckling? I mean, we are RIGHT there. You could spit on the players if you needed to. I heard NOTHING. Now true, it was the Pirates, not the Cards, but c'mon! Don't these fans want to win? Don't they know that your duty, as a fan, is to heckle the other team? To get inside their players' heads? To make them lose concentration?

I spent the majority of the game talking with my fellow game goers about this and that. Honestly, heckling the Pirates is like shooting fish in a barrel. I refrained from anything, as I figured maybe heckling was against the law or something. Then, the bottom of the 8th began, and the Pirates brought in a pitcher named "Meek." I just could not pass this up. Meek? Are you kidding? For a PITCHER? These screams for heckling. It's a heckler's dream come true!

What does Meek do? He walks the first guy he faces. "Hey Meek, don't be AFRAID to throw strikes!" "You look kind of SCARED out there, MEEK!" Two batters into this performance, I realize Meek has no chance. No one warming up yet. This is going to be too fun. Then Overbay at first makes an error, and I am really getting on Meek. "You think anyone wants to catch a ball for you, Meek?" After an out is finally recorded: "Hey Meek, maybe you WILL inherit the earth after all!"

Now Meek's got first and second for Soriano. "Don't throw him a fastball, Meek! He lives for first pitch fastballs! Better throw him that curveball!" Meek throws a curveball. Soriano swings and misses. "Come right back with that, Meek!" Soriano takes this time. Meek shows some balls and throws a fastball. Blows it by him. Throws another fastball, Soriano is late. "Well, Meek, he was late on your fastball. Usually means you throw him another until he proves he can get around on you. But this is Soriano. What do you do?!" No bull shit, Meek steps off the rubber. I am in a frenzy. Meek is mine! Next pitch is some kind of slow bull shit I don;t know what and Soriano clobbers into right. Goodbye, Meek. Welcome Resop. Resop?!?!? That's Poser spelled backwards! The Pirates - the gift that keeps on giving. Byt the time I am doen with the Pirates, they have gone from a 3-0 lead to a 5-3 deficit. The Cubs should hire me.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Guess

Before I make my standings prediction, let's go with the most important prediction: what will Sterling say for a Russel Martin home run? I have two possibilities: Oh, Russel, you DO the Hustle. Or, Oh Russel, you're my favorite Martin! Predictions?

The Phillies can't overcome a lack of hitting and miss the playoffs. I remind you that this is a team that was shut out by the METS 4 times last year.

The Mets show that they have a lineup and enough pitching to stay in race. In mid season, Wilpons sell team to Hank Steinbrenner, who is pissed that younger brother Hal gets all the spotlight and does all the talking for the Yankees. Yammerin' Hank makes all the right midseason moves, acquires Soriano from the Yankees, and the Mets make a push for it
- Hide quoted text -

Reds show the promise of last year was not a false one. They lose first World Series game since the 70's.

Twins get to avoid the Yankees in the playoffs and finally go some place. Win World series by winning all four home games (I guess this means I am predicting an American League victory in the All Star Game).

The Sawx discover that importing a player from San Diego, a la Ed Whitson, is ALWAYS a bad strategy for an Al East team.

Here's the National League:

Who else is in this division?

Who else is in this division?
Wild Card: Mets

Giants over Mets in 5
Reds over Braves in 5
Reds over Giants in 6


Blue Jays



Wild Card: Yanks
Rangers over Yanks in 4
Twins over Rays in 5
Twins over Rangers in 6
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