Tag Archives: Boston Red Sox

It Seems John Lackey Is An Unconscionable Dick

Guess what, Red Sox fans…Thanks to the window-peekers at TMZ.com, you have a whole new and far better reason for hating pitcher-turned money-sucking-douchehole John Lackey.

Forget about the $15,950,000 salary (which breaks down to $569,642.86 per start or $1,329,166.67 per win). Forget that he led the league in earned runs (114). Forget that he led the league in hit batsmen (19). Those just illustrate he is a lousy pitcher. What illustrates that he is a lousy human being is the fact he has filed to divorce his wife who is in the middle of battling breast cancer.

Lackey filed on August 30, according to court docs in Texas, claiming “the marriage has become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities.” Krista and John got married in November, 2008.

Sources close to the family tell TMZ … Krista underwent a double mastectomy back in March and underwent chemo as recently as June.

The divorce petition says John and Krista had a pre-nup. It also says Lackey has “separate property” he wants to keep for himself.

Naturally, the timing of this news forced the Red Sox to issue a statement…after all, it’s not like they have anything else to worry about…

The Red Sox just released a statement on Lackey’s behalf — telling us, “John Lackey is dealing with a deeply personal family issue, and it is one the Red Sox do not feel is appropriate for public debate. The Red Sox request that John and Krista’s privacy be respected.”

Here’s the part I don’t get. Doing this in the middle of what would prove to be a titanic collapse doesn’t seem to be the smart move. Don’t you think it would have been better to do this quietly sometime in the off-season when nobody would have cared? Then again, it’s not as if Lackey looks like a big-brain sort of guy.

Ok, Too Soxy For My Shirt, do you see why I always leave those hateful anti-SLackey comments on your blog?

The 10 Worst Baseball Pennant Race Collapses – The Red Sox Weren’t The Worst, Just The Most Fun

Given what happened the other night, there’s a lot of superlatives being bandied about…while the Red Sox and Braves both managed a serious dose of  “epic fail,” neither of them are the worst choke job in pennant race history.  So, before you let anybody tell you the Red Sox pulled off the worst collapse in history, compare it to some of the truly titanic throat-closers of all time.

10) 1987 Toronto Blue Jays

"I've got to make room for Sil Campusano."

The favorite American League sons of the Great White North were 96-59 and had a 3.5-game over the Detroit Tigers with seven games to play. On the second-to-last Sunday of the season,  Toronto had a one-run lead over the Tigers headed into the ninth inning, until Kirk Gibson’s solo shot tied the game. The Tigers went on to win in 13 innings; the Blue Jays didn’t win again that season.  Toronto ended the 1987 season at 96-66, which allowed the Tigers to snatch the AL East with a sweep of the Blue Jays on the final weekend of the season.

9) 1951 Brooklyn Dodgers

It’s hard to paint a team that posted a 26-22 record down stretch with the “collapse” brush, but it’s also hard to say a team that gagged away a 13.5 game lead and lost a playoff didn’t fold.  Trouble is, the New York Giants got crazy hot; they won 37 out of their final 44 games and tied Brooklyn on the final day of the season. The Dodgers lost the three-game playoff, thanks to Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard Round The World.”

8 ) 2011 Atlanta Braves

This was like the “stealth” collapse; nobody really seemed to understand this was a choke job until the Braves were only leading the Cardinals by three games with five to play.  St. Louis trailed the Braves by 10.5 games in late August, and the lead only shrank to 8.5 games by the first week in September, which is largely why this went unnoticed until the last weekend of the season. The Braves forgot how to hit, posted a record of 9-18 in September, and lost the wild-card on the last day of the season.

7) 2011 Boston Red Sox

The power of the present makes people want to think this tank-job rates higher on the list, especially those wacky Red Sox fans who want to believe they didn’t beat their wives and/or blow their brains out over #7 on the list.  Granted, this is the worst collapse that happened entirely in September, but it genesis lies throughout the season. The Sox stumbled out of the gate, but recovered to lead the AL East for most of the second half. But they fell behind the Yankees early in September, and the free-fall continued. In short, what killed this team in April simply resurfaced in September.

The Sox figured they could always win the wild-card, as they led the Rays by nine games on Labor Day.  However, since the Red Sox only won seven games the rest of the way, Tampa Bay ran them down on the second-to-last day of the season, which led to the dramatic Wednesday night finish, which saw the Sox blow a 3-2 lead with two outs in the ninth against last-place Baltimore, while at the same time the Rays rallied from a 7-0 early pasting to beat the Yankees 8-7 in extra innings to claim the AL Wild Card.

6) 2007 New York Mets

In 2007, the Phillies had not yet emerged as the current uber-squad they are perceived to be today. In fact, they trailed the Mets by seven games on September 12th, but since the Shea crew had Pedro Martinez back on the mound after surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff,  the Mets were the favorite in what was considered to be a weak National League field. That was before the Flushing Nine went down the stretch to finish the season one game behind the surging Phillies.

5) 1969 Chicago Cubs

The Amazin’ Mets of 1969 would have never been if it weren’t for this Chicago fold. 1969 was the first season in which there was divisional play, and for the entirety of the season, the Cubs had led the newly-formed NL East.

However, this was before the Cubs swallowed their own tongue. Chicago held a solid 9.5-game lead on August 14th, but within two weeks, the Mets had closed the gap to two games. The Cubs collapse continued as they dropped 14 of their final 20 games, and New York won the division by eight full games.

4) 2009 Detroit Tigers

From May 10th until the final day of the 2009 season – a total of 164 days – the Detroit Tigers enjoyed the driver’s seat in the AL Central.  The problem was they let the Minnesota Twins hang around, so much so the Twins were able to sweep the last three games of the season against the Tigers to force a one-game playoff. The Twins won 6-5 in a classic 12-inning affair, leaving the Tigers as the only team to blow a three-game lead with four to play.

3) 1978 Boston Red Sox

Three words: Bucky F–king Dent. Yes, this is the scenario which forever immortalized in the loathe-zone of Red Sox faithful from Falmouth to Fort Lauderdale a man whose name sounds more like a tooth-care product for beavers.

July 1978 saw the Sox with a 14-game lead over the defending world champion Yankees. But, the Bronx Bombers chipped away at that deficit until it was down to a still-formidable 7.5-game lead with only 32 games to play. However, the Red Sox gagged 14 of 17 games which allowed the Yanks to pull into the left lane and pass Boston.

However, the Sox won their final eight which forced a one-game playoff at Fenway Park.  That’s the last day Bucky Dent’s name was ever uttered in Sox Nation without the extra frigative, as the Yankees’ light-hitting shortstop hit a 7th-inning game winning homer (his 5th of the season) to send the Yankees eventually to their second consecutive World Series title.

2) 1995 California Angels

Just like the ’78 Red Sox, the Angels blew a huge lead, only to make a late rally, only to choke in a one-game playoff. California held a lead of 11.5 games in Mid-August, but went 12-27 in their final 39 games (including winning their last five games) which allowed the Seattle Mariners to force a one-game playoff. However, in that game, Seattle ace Randy Johnson mowed the Angels like they were his back yard to the tune of a 9-1 shellacking.

1) 1964 Philadelphia Phillies

It’s hard for many baseball fans born after 1985 to understand that for nearly a century, the Phillies were even more of a hard-luck franchise than the Cubs. The Phillies were the last original National League team win a pennant when they finally did so after nearly 70 years of existence in 1950. They went 30 more years before they became the last original member of the senior circuit to win a World Series in 1980. That’s why 1964 is such a big deal.

Nobody had a greater streak of futility than the Phillies. From 1919 to 1947, the Phillies finished in last  place a total of 17 times, and next to last seven times. This is why the Phils were the first major league franchise to post 10,000 losses. They spent the 1950’s oscillating between decent and deplorable, but they seemed to turn the corner in the early 1960’s.  1962 and 1963 found the Phillies climbing back to respectability, and throughout the 1964 season, they seemed destined to make it to the World Series. Philadelphia boasted a stocked line-up, featuring stars like rookie third baseman Dick Allen, outfielders Johnny Callison and Cookie Rojas, catcher Gus Triandos, and pitchers Jim Bunning and Chris Short.

1964 seemed to be the Phillies year for the taking. The first indicator that the Phils were the team of destiny came on Father’s Day, when future U.S. Senator and Hall-of-Famer Jim Bunning pitched a perfect game. This was the first National League perfecto since 1880, and even the Shea Stadium faithful found themselves cheering for the visiting hurler given the rarity of the event.

T.S. Eliot said April is the cruelest month; had he been a Phillies fan, he would have saved that designation for September 1964.  The Phils held a 6.5 game lead over the Cardinals and Reds with 12 games to go that month. Then, thanks to the “managerial genius” of Gene Mauch, Philadelphia lost 10 games in a row and ended up one game behind St. Louis in a tie for second place with Cincinnati.

Other collapses worthy of consideration:

  • 1962 Los Angeles Dodgers: Blew a 4 game lead with 7 left to play
  • 1938 Pittsburgh Pirates: Lost a September 1st lead of 7 games
  • 1993 San Francisco Giants: Dropped a Mid-August lead of 9 games
  • 1983 Atlanta Braves: Gagged away a 6.5 game lead in under 30 games
  • 1942 Brooklyn Dodgers: Blew a 7.5 game in under 25 games
  • 2005 Cleveland Indians: Dropped 6 of their final 7 after taking lead in Wild Card race
Apologies for the history lesson, but it really is the only way to show Red Sox fans that what happened this September and culminated Wednesday isn’t the worst collapse ever…it is just the Red Sox latest entry in the Futility Sweepstakes.

The Dubsism Baseball Post-Season Preview: A Look Back at Yesterday and A Look Ahead To October

I’m just going to come right out and say it…if you didn’t find last night’s baseball drama to be one of the most exciting things you’ve seen since discount warehouse liquor stores, you either don’t like baseball or you have no pulse.

I’m such an old codger that I can remember first-hand the days of Charlie O. Finley, the chain-link outfield fence at Candlestick Park, and Bucky F–king Dent, and I would be lying if I didn’t say that last night was the single-most exciting four hours of baseball I’ve ever personally witnessed.  Being that old geezer, you have to understand this includes Game 6 of the ’75 World Series, Reggie Jackson hitting three homers on three swings against the Dodgers, the ’78 Red Sox-Yankees playoff (hence Bucky F–king Dent), Game 6 of the ’86 World Series, the 1987 World Series (preceded by the August weekend in Milwaukee in which Kirby Puckett supplanted Rod Carew as  my lord and personal savior), Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, and all things Bartman-esque.

But none of those things – not a single damn one of them – involved four games occurring simultaneously which held the structure of the post-season in the balance. The Cards took their game out of the mix early by drubbing the Astros, and it seemed the Yankees had done the same on the grand slam by Mark Teixiera. When Dustin Pedroia put the Red Sox in front of the Orioles with his homer, I don’t think anybody in America saw what was coming in the next few hours.

Except me.

If you are a follow of @Dubsism on Twitter, you saw the prophecy in action.

9:30 P.M. ET

Okay, so I missed on the playoff thing, but after Jon Lester somehow managed to get out of the 6th inning without giving away the ball game despite his complete inability to throw a strike, all you had to do was look into the Sawwwx dugout to see they knew they had just used up their miracle.

Again, the Orioles just won’t go away, and here comes Jonathan “I can blow that save, Terry” Papelbon.  But just moments before Papelbon has his soon-to-be-infamous meltdown, Dan Johnson has his moment in Tampa.

That’s right, the hero of the moment is a guy who was hitting south of .130 and hadn’t had a major league hit since April. Toss in the fact that he looked completely overmatched on pitches prior to that home run, and one couldn’t help but be reminded of Bernie Carbo.

Next comes the Papelbon catastrophe (raise your hand if you didn’t see it coming…by now it was painfully apparent). This left the only hope for the Sawwwx in a Rays extra-inning loss.

Then it happened.

12:00 A.M. ET

Evan Longoria stroked the Red Sox into the off-season, all while propelling us into what promises to be an incredible post-season. But it also will push us into a discussion about just what happened.

While the Braves collapse is just as embarrassing as that of Boston’s, it simply is more fun to rub some salt in the collective wounds of the Sawwwx nation. See, as an Angels fan, I’ve hated the Red Sox ever since the Dave Henderson homer in the ’86 ALCS.

You should understand that for the rest of us, those of us not fans of the Yankees or Red Yankees, those of us whose teams have spent a decade playing the Washington Generals to east-of-the-Hudson, bloated-payroll Globetrotters…when either team fails, it is the same sort of soul-filling pablum that makes people watch soap operas. We all love to watch the rich and famous stumble.

And after all that, here we are; another October full of post-season baseball. Let’s be honest, most of the crap I said about these teams six months ago was wrong, so why not go for month number seven proving I have no idea what I’m talking about.

Indeed, how many of those things turned out true? Remember when I said the Yankees and the Red Sox were mirror images of each other, and it would be a race between the two to see which collapsed first? Well, the Red Sox waited until September before they folded faster than Superman on laundry day, allowing themselves to get run down by a Rays team that could be this years answer to the San Francisco Giants.

But enough of looking back…let’s look ahead to the post-season. Here are your eight participants and their odds of coming home with a title.

1) Philadelphia Phillies – (Pre-season Rank #1, 102-60, NL East Champs) – Odds of Winning World Series: 2.5-1

This team is all about the pitching staff, with just enough offense to make it work. It worked to the tune of 100+ wins, and this is the proverbial “team to beat” until somebody does just that. The biggest concern is that in the National League, the team to finish with the best record hasn’t won the World Series since the 1986 Mets, and since the Phillies obviously won’t have the luxury of facing the Red Sawwwx…

2) New York Yankees (Pre-season Rank #4, 97-65, AL East Champs) – Odds of Winning World Series: 4-1

The Yankees are the photo-negative of the Phillies; they sport a monstrous line-up and a pitching staff made up of CC Sa-fat-tia and a lot of “not much else.”

Now, it’s time for some equal-opportunity hating: Are you now, or have you ever been a Yankees fan? Are you under the age of 45? Have you ever said “The Yankees sucked when I was a kid, so I’m not of one these new Yankee fans that came along when we started winning again”? If you answered “Yes” to these questions, you are pretentious douche-nozzle and you would be doing the world a favor if you stuck a shotgun in your mouth.

There’s soooooooooo many reasons to hate the Yankees. First, there’s the aforementioned loyalty-less assloafs who think just because the Yankees sucked in the 80′s means they aren’t some dickhead who needs to be on the winning side.  But least there is one less reason to hate them, since that piece of deep-fried monkey nuts known as George Steinbrenner is dead. At least he has a burn-in-hell worthy legacy, like sodomizing New York City out of a billion dollars to build a replica of a 90-year old mausoleum of decency, then filling it with insufferable dickweeds who are now actually proud of their Ruthian douche-baggery.

Oh, and I haven’t mentioned this yet, but you have no idea how much it pissed me off that after Steinbrenner assumed room temperature that I kept being told “You didn’t have to like him, but you had to respect him.”  Eat me. The same people who said this are the same people responsible for the impending death of America.  George Steinbrenner was a criminal who deserves the same respect a dog pays to a fire hydrant.

3) Tampa Bay Rays (Pre-season Rank #18, 91-71, AL Wild Card) – Odds of Winning World Series: 5.5-1

This is clearly a reactionary pick. Last year I picked the Giants as the least likely team to win, and I’m not making that mistake again. This team plays just like last years champions. They get big hits when they need them, and they get enough pitching to make those hits stand up. Not to mention, if you believe in momentum AT ALL, you can’t bet against this club.

4) Milwaukee Brewers (Pre-season Rank #12, 96-66, NL Central Champs) – Odds of Winning World Series: 7-1

This is the first appearance the Brew Crew has made in the post-season  since Harvey’s Wallbangers in 1982. The Brewers finished with a 57-24 record at home, which was both best in the major leagues and a franchise record.  Since they will host the Diamondbacks in the first round, that should bode well for the boys from Beer City.

5) Arizona Diamondbacks (Pre-Season Rank #11, 94-67, NL West Champs) – Odds of Winning World Series: 8-1

Don’t look now, but this is a franchise that wins with pitching. They won the 2001 World Series with Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson, and Arizona moundsmen have earned five Cy Young Awards in 13 seasons.  This year, the D-backs sport right-handers Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson, as well as left-hander Joe Saunders who have all racked up 200 innings.

With all those innings-eaters at the top of the rotation, the D-Backs always more often than not have a fresh bullpen, which means manager Kirk Gibson often can get desirable individual late-game matchups. This also means Arizona tends not to get far behind in ball games, which is part of the reason for the team’s big-league-high 48 comeback victories.

Oh, and as a life-long Dodger-hater, I’m obliged to bring up the quintessential Kirk Gibson post-season moment…I may need a bucket…

6) St. Louis Cardinals (Pre-Season Rank #16, 90-72, NL Wild Card) – Odds of Winning World Series: 9-1

Only the Yankees have won more World Series titles than the Cardinals, and both have won in the last five years. This means the Cardinals are a team with plenty of post-season experience.

They also have that momentum factor I mentioned with the Rays. The Cardinals got hot in September after being 10 1/2 games behind the Braves on Aug. 25.   This means they won 23 of their last 32 games.

7) Texas Rangers (Pre-Season Rank #13, 95-66, AL West Champs) – Odds of Winning World Series: 12-1

Texas hit .320 in September, the highest batting average after September 1st, which is the best since this statistic has been kept beginning in 1946. We all know this team can hit, and even though the Ranger pitching staff has the fifth best ERA in the American League, I’m not sure a Cliff Lee-less rotation scares anybody.

8 ) Detroit Tigers (Pre-Season Rank #14, 91-71, AL Central Champs- Odds of Winning World Series: 14-1

Like the Brewers, the Tigers are another team showing up in October after a long absence. The last time the Motor City Kitties graced October with their was 1987. Of all the great moments in my own personal baseball history I listed earlier, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Game 4 of the ALCS, when Tiger third baseman Darrell Evans became the goat to end all goats.

As far as this year’s Tigers are concerned, you can’t argue that Justin Verlander is the most dominating pitcher in the league, and Miguel Cabrera is the most potent offensive weapon, but the Tigers have some thump in the lineup beyond that. They have a supporting cast to go along with Verlander. The trouble is I simply don’t think they can beat the Yankees.

The Baseball Trading Deadline – The Shark Week Comparison

Whether it’s stocks, fantasy baseball, or the real thing, trading can be a dangerous proposition. There’s no guarantee that the deal will work; only time will tell whether your investment pays off or whether you get to sell you blood to make the rent this month.

 

But, one thing that is certain; where there’s trading there’s bleeding, and nothing draws the sharks like blood in the water. Since we here at Dubsism are at the same time not willing to wait for two years to see who the bleeders are and stuck in the middle of the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” we’ve decided to give the rating of winners and losers a bit of a  “swim with the sharks” twist.

Great White Shark: San Francisco Giants

Key additions:  SS Orlando Cabrera, 2B Jeff Keppinger, OF Carlos Beltran

Last season, the Giants were the Remora on this list.  It is only fitting that a team makes such a jump up considering the city is located on a peninsula the Spanish named “Tiburon;” their word for “shark.”  The Giants pitching staff is so dominant that any addition of offense makes them the apex predator in a seven-game series.

Tiger Shark: Texas Rangers

Key Additions: RHP Kohji Uehara, RHP Mike Adams

The one thing the Rangers needed was pitching. Since there really wasn’t a big-time starter available, the Rangers seriously upgraded their bullpen. This team now matches up favorably against anybody in the American League.

Bull Shark: Pittsburgh Pirates

Key Additions: 1B Derrek Lee, OF Ryan Ludwick

Yeah, I know, I can’t believe I’m writing about the Pirates in August.  Bull sharks are notorious for conducting the most attacks on humans; the Pirates in recent history have committed the most atrocities against baseball. The Bucs have been a bottom-feeder for nearly two decades, and even if they swim into a gill net and finish the season as baseball’s equivalent of waste at the tuna cannery, it won’t be because they didn’t give an honest effort.

Mako Shark: Atlanta Braves

Key Additions: OF Michael Bourn

This is a case of a shark that is the fastest in the sea, and a seriously feared predator.  If the Braves can stay healthy, the addition of a serious speed threat on the base paths mean Atlanta could easily blow past somebody.

Hammerhead Shark: Philadelphia Phillies

Key Additions: OF Hunter Pence

For the second year in a row, the Phillies are this odd, flat-headed creature. Just looking at a hammerhead, one gets the idea they are completely bereft of the ability to see either forward or backward. With some foresight, they might have seen that losing Jayson Werth would leave their line-up both far too-left-handed and with no protection for Ryan Howard.  However, this move solves a part of that problem; another rightie bat in the Phils’ line-up and/or a good bullpen guy would make them the most complete team in baseball.

Blacktip Reef Shark: Arizona Diamondbacks

Key Additions: RHP Brad Ziegler, RHP Jason Marquis

Timid and skittish, the blacktip reef shark seldom poses a danger in the National League West. And yet, this is the second time the D-Backs find themselves in this spot.  They find themselves here largely because two trades they made last year, and one they didn’t make this year.

This team entered 2011 looking like they needed to swim into a gill net and hope for a better lot in the next life.  But in last year’s Dan Haren deal alone, they unloaded $30 million in salary while getting four pitchers in return, including Joe Saunders, a not-that-long-ago former All-Star. When you add how they fleeced the White Sux for the perenially shaky Edwin Jackson (whose since been dealt twice), the D-backs boast an organization with nine of the top 80 picks from the 2009 draft. After all that, stop and think where this team might be if they  had traded Justin Upton.

Stingray:  Cleveland Indians

Key Additions: OF Kosuke Fukudome, RHP Ubaldo Jimenez

Much like nobody expected a guy who wrestled crocodiles and handled deadly snakes to meet his maker via a swimming carpet, anybody who saw the Indians as a buyer at the deadline is either a visionary or full of shit.  Not to mention, the Indians should get a mention for bringing up Jason Kipnis, who it seems hit about sixty home runs last week.

Nurse Shark: Boston Red Sox

Key Additions:  LHP Erik Bedard, RHP Josh Fields

Much like a nurse shark is a large fearsome looking creature that actually has the aggression level of Mickey Mouse on valium, the Red Sox look like a contender until you take a hard look at them. Seriously, once you look past that gawdy offense, you see right away this team has a pitching staff that is smoke and mirrors show in an intensive care unit. Granted, Josh Beckett seems to finally found a way to not suck, Lester is trying his hardest not to suck, but there’s a big drop-off after that…Tim Wakefield? John Lackey? Could somebody in Red Sawwwx nation be sure to let me know when the funerals for Daisuke Matsuzaka, Rich Hill, Bobby Jenks, and Clay Buchholz will be?

To that train wreck, the BoSox only add a questionable big-league starter who had given up 11 earned runs in his last 13 innings pitched before the trade, and a guy who is sporting an ERA over 6.00 in Triple-A.

At least the Yankees can’t pitch either.

Skate: Cincinnati Reds

Key Additions:  OF Bill Rhinehart, LHP Chris Manno

Much like the skate is hardly a shark, the Reds are hardly a contender. Granted, they have the reigning MVP in Joey Votto, and they have a Cy Young contender in Johnny Cueto (yeah, I can’t believe I just wrote that either). The problem is that’s only a pair in a poker hand that need three-of-a-kind at best to win.

The Reds really could have addressed some needs; every other team trying to win this shit heap of a division did so. Instead, the played the role of bottom feeder by trading an under-performer in Jonny Gomes for two serious “maybe in a few years” types. This is just another reason why the Reds in their current configuration never  should be taken seriously.

Dogfish: Detroit Tigers

Key Additions: RHP Doug Fister, RHP David Pauley,  3B Wilson Betemit

Yeah, I get the pseudo-irony of a team with a decidedly feline mascot being slapped with the Dogfish, but let’s be honest…two of the three guys they acquired are dogs.  Doug Fister might be a serviceable #3-#4 guy in a rotation, but who knows what Pauley is, and Betemit just plain sucks.

Remora: St. Louis Cardinals

Key Additions: RHP Octavio Dotel, RHP Edwin Jackson, LHP Marc Rzepczynski, SS Rafael Furcal, OF Corey Patterson

Yeah, we know a remora isn’t a shark, but you can’t watch Shark Week without seeing one. If you  aren’t familiar, a remora is one of those little fish that just hangs around, cleaning up whatever bits the big sharks leave behind. Lots of other sharks had a major feeding, and the Cards sucked up a lot of remnants.

Bathtub Toy Shark:  Milwaukee Brewers

Key Additions:  IF/OF Jerry Hairston, Jr., RHP Francisco Rodriguez

A 35-year old utility player who hits .250 with no power, and an over-priced and possibly washed-up reliever.  At least these type decisions are right at home in the NL Central.

The Chum Bucket: Los Angeles Angels & New York Yankees

“Yeah, I’d like to see you come down here and spoon out some of this slop…”

Just as you would expect, this would a a mish-mash of the assorted pieces left over from those who really didn’t figure out what the trade game is all about. For example, the Los Angeles Angels did NOTHING despite the fact they desperately need another bat.

As far as New York is concerned, re-read the above paragraph and replace the word “Angels” with “Yankees,” and replace the word “bat” with the phrase “solid starting pitcher.”

The Idiot Who Gets Bitten Because He’s an Idiot:

Again, this is something that no Shark Week would be complete without. You’ve all seen this guy, usually a fisherman who while trying to retrieve a 40-cent hook somehow forgets that even small sharks have mouths full of razor-sharp teeth that make an exceptionally efficient finger-removal tool.

Welcome to the world of the Houston Astros, a team who last year actually gave the Yankees, a.k.a. the richest team in baseball $4 million to put Lance Berkman in pinstripes, and this year proceeded to have a fire sale of such proportions that the Astros may lose 100 games a season for the next half-decade.

Famous Sports Rivalries In Which I Hate Both Sides

The sporting world is full of rivalries which engender so much passion there are clear battle lines drawn between the camps. But what happens to those of us who may feel animus toward both sides? Here’s a list of several such examples that make the collective colon here at Dubsism slam shut like a steel bear trap.

12 ) Chicago Cubs vs. Chicago White Sox

It is almost impossible to find two teams that exemplify their shit-hole of a city more. Where better to put the two retarded little brothers of baseball who while steeped in history have accounted for one championship in 90 years than in one of the largest cities in the world that matters the least to anybody?

11) LeBron James vs. the City of Cleveland

Sometimes, you really have to wonder if we have completely succeeded in this country in growing a generation of complete morons we’ve put on pedestals. Nobody in the world would have blamed LeBron James for leaving Cleveland; nobody wants to be in Cleveland.  It’s little more than a “Mini-Me” to Chicago; a rust-belt, blue-collar city that nobody wants to be in; Cleveland’s population has been dropping steadily for 80 years. All he had to do was not be a douche-bag about it.  It really leaves you in a situation where you can’t figure out who is dumber, LeBron for screwing up a move millions of Clevelanders have made themselves or those same Clevelanders for managing collectively to sound like a bitter ex-wife.

10) Montreal Canadiens vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

Hate is actually too strong a term for this. The problem is the “Rhett Butler” approach is too weak, but it is closer to accurate.  Let’s face it;  I don’t really give a damn. I spent big chunks of my childhood in Southern California, which isn’t exactly where you develop strong feelings about Canadian hockey teams, and even though I loved the old-school Los Angeles Kings (seriously, we are talking about the pre-Gretzky Kings with the purple and gold uniforms that clothed an NHL retirement home; the Kings of my childhood featured such past-their-prime legends like Butch Goring and Marcel Dionne), you couldn’t watch the 12-team NHL of the 1970’s without knowing these two teams hated each other.  All I cared about in those days is that both of these teams arrived at the L.A. Forum with a boatload of Canadians who weren’t past their prime and put as ass-whipping on the Kings.  Even to this day, all I can say is “screw both of them; Canada sucks.”

9) Manchester United vs. Manchester City

For those of you not familiar with the English Premier League, picture this rivalry with the Red Devils of Manchester United as the New York Yankees with Manchester City as the old Brooklyn Dodgers. You perhaps didn’t really like the Dodgers, but they made a perfect underdog foil to those goddamn Yankees. But then the Dodgers went Hollywood, started winning and blew their lovability in the process, much like the Los Angeles Dodgers. 15 years ago, Man City was lovable in their feebleness, but then new ownership pumped that team full of money, and now they are every bit as douche-tastic as their cross-town rivals.

8 ) Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins

As a Philadelphia Eagle fan, this one is really a no-brainer. There’s an old saying that culture in an organization comes from the top down, and Jerry Jones and Daniel Snyder are a marvelous reflection of that. While we here at Dubsism have postulated that Al Davis makes the Oakland Raiders the “North Korea of the NFL,” Jones and Snyder are both in line to ascend to the NFL’s “Crazy Old Man Owner” throne. Thankfully, their leadership (or lack thereof) has made these two franchises combine for a grand total of three playoff wins in the past 15 years.

7) Oklahoma Sooners vs. Texas Longhorns

Our Proposed Logo for the "Red River Rivalry"

The way these two preen over that silly Saturday in October…well, it really is sad to think either of these two believe anybody gives a shit about them or their “make-believe” rivalry.  It’s really sad that a couple of goofy-ass schools like Nebraska and Colorado are the ones who figured out the Big 12 is a repository for football nobody cares about.

6) Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings vs. Chicago Bears

This is much like the “love triangle” situation outline in the 1980 J. Geils’ Band hit “Love Stinks.” The Vikings think the Packers are their main rival, The Packers think the Bears are their main rival, and neither the Packers or the Bears even know who the Vikings are.

5) Arsenal vs. Chelsea

More from the English Premier League, so I will make another baseball reference…Earlier I compared Manchester United to the Yankees. Continuing on this theme, Arsenal would be the Red Sox and Chelsea would be the Mets, only if the Mets didn’t suck. They are two of the biggest clubs in the league, and they can buy pretty much any player they want. Whenever these two get together, it is an exercise in dysfunction that somehow manages to be successful, like a photo negative of the Dallas Cowboys.

4) Auburn vs. Alabama

When these two compete in the annual “Iron Bowl,” they are battling for the bragging right for the entire state of Alabama. This is like two bums fighting over the least piss-stained raincoat at Goodwill. Do you know what the best thing that ever came out of the state of Alabama was? An empty bus.  Alabama is just a collection of bimbos whose boyfriends still think Bear Bryant is alive, and Auburn thinks it is a real university.

3) Duke vs. North Carolina

What can we say about Duke that we haven’t said before? No matter their record, no matter their talent, no matter anything, Duke sucks.  As much as we have beat on Mike Krzyzewski for being a pompous ass-hat, North Carolina’s Roy Williams is in the same league, and not just figuratively. My favorite was last spring when Williams compared having a losing ACC record to the earthquake in Haiti.

“Our massage therapist told me, ‘You know, coach, what happened in Haiti is a catastrophe. What you’re having is a disappointment,’ ” said Williams. “I told her that depends on what chair you’re sitting in. It does feel like a catastrophe to me, because it is my life.”

I’m not sure what the state of North Carolina did to deserve such a pair of pure, uncut assholes, but better them than the rest of us.

2) Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees

The Yankees – Red Sox rivalry is one of the oldest, most famous and fiercest rivalries in North American professional sports.  For over 100 years, Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees of the American League have been intense rivals.  For nearly as long, fans of both teams have thoroughly annoyed the living shit out of the rest of us.

The rivalry is sometimes so polarizing that it is often a heated subject, like religion or politics, in the Northeastern United States.  In fact, since ESPN is also based in the Northeastern US, they believe the Yankees and the Red Sox are the only two teams in Major League Baseball, judging by their broadcast schedule.

1) Michigan Wolverines vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

College football gives us the twelve greatest Saturdays of the year, and it also give us the two greatest evils in sports. Ohio State and Michigan both represent all that is wrong with college football, and every evil that it contains.  Recent events have shown that Jim Tressel, a.k.a. Cheatypants McSweatervest is a disingenuous, lying prick, and the Michigan fan base just hasn’t come to terms with the fact they are not an elite program anymore. I can only hope and pray that the NCAA grows the balls to make an example out of Ohio State, but they likely won’t, and I hope it takes Michigan at least three more head coaches before they figure out that “elite” programs don’t get man-handled by Purdue.

Goodbye, Sweet Lou…

Piniella with Portland of the Pacific Coast League, 1966

After announcing that his retirement originally scheduled for the end of this season was moving up to today, it is time to give Lou Piniella the send-off he richly deserves. 18 years as a player, 23 years as a manager, three World Series rings; his 1,835 wins as a manager rank him behind only Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox, and Joe Torre (three lead-pipe cinch Hall-of-Famers) for active managers, and ranks him ahead of Hall-of-Famers Tommy Lasorda, Dick Williams, and Clark Griffith. As a player, Piniella was the American League Rookie of the Year for 1969, and while he wouldn’t make Cooperstown from his efforts on the field, he’d certainly make the Hall of Pretty Damn Good.

Piniella during the five at-bats he collected as a Cleveland Indian in 1968.

Piniella during his Rookie of the Year season.

With that, I would like to offer the Dubsism version of the Dean Martin Roast, the photo retrospective known as the File Dump.

Many people are unaware that in addition to his baseball prowess, Piniella excelled at basketball at the University of Tampa.

Throughout his managerial career, Piniella often liked to show off his passing ability.

Lou was known to be a tad bit excitable. During his time as a Yankee, he developed a warm loving relationship with Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk. During a 1976 match, Piniella slid hard into Fisk, who bluntly expressed his displeasure, and the love fest began.

Naturally, once Piniella matured into a leadership role, he mellowed.

Actually, not even being in his sixties mellowed “Sweet” Lou.

Actually, it was his down time at the salon that he used to calm his temperament.

Salons not withstanding, Lou always has a sense of cool.

Of course, Piniella’s sense of style is one of the reasons why he remains as part of the Yankee family to this day.

But in all seriousness, Piniella’s World Series win at the helm of the underdog Cincinnati Reds rates as one of the all-time managerial achievements of all time.

Mr. Piniella, you were a pleasure to watch both on the field and in the dugout and baseball fans everywhere owe you a sincere tip of the cap and a wish that your retirement offers you as much enjoyment as your career gave us.

The Dubsism Baseball Power Rankings: The First Look At How Wrong We Were

Now that we are solidly into the regular season, it is time to take a peek at how wrong my pre-season rankings were. As boring as it may be, most of the teams floated right around their original spots, but there certainly are a few surprises.

The Minnesota Twins: Granted this isn’t that big of a shock; that lineup is going to crush right-handed pitching. But this team’s stock is up because Francisco Liriano is throwing blurs at the plate and Jon Rauch has people not so worried about losing Joe Nathan.

Does the 1.29 ERA mean Liriano has returned to his blurry form? Twins fans certainly hope so.

California in General:  The Padres are leading the NL West based on a league-leading Team ERA of 2.82, the Giants are tight behind their statemates to the south in both the stat and the standings, and Oakland’s 3.16 means three of the top four staffs in terms of earned runs allowed get their mail in the Golden State. Toss in Dodger Matt Kemp’s pacing the NL with 7 homers and 20 RBI and the Angels not looking nearly as mediocre as one believed, and things are on the up. The question is how many of these things will still be true in August.

The Boston Red Sox: We can argue they may or may not really suck as bad as they look. But there is no debating how old and slow they are. It really stood out in that series against the Rays. The Rays are young, athletic, and on the way up, which provided an exact contrast to the Sawwwwx.  

The Current Red Sox Team Photo.

The Washington Nationals: They don’t hit particularly well and they can’t pitch at all. But they are over .500. Can they maintain this hot start, or are they going to end up like Teddy Roosevelt?

The full rankings are listed below. The numbers behind each team indicate change in ranking from the previous ranking. Teams with the biggest changes are in bold.

  1. New York Yankees ↑ 1
  2. Philadelphia Phillies ↓ 1
  3. Minnesota Twins ↑ 7
  4. Tampa Bay Rays ↑ 1
  5. St. Louis Cardinals ↑ 1
  6. San Francisco Giants ↑ 11
  7. Florida Marlins ↑ 5
  8. Oakland A’s ↑ 13
  9. Colorado Rockies ↓ 4
  10. Atlanta Braves ↓ 2
  11. Detroit Tigers ↑ 3  
  12. Seattle Mariners ↓ 5
  13. Los Angeles Angels ↑ 2
  14. Los Angeles Dodgers ↓ 1
  15. Chicago White Sox ↓ 6
  16. San Diego Padres ↑ 10
  17. Washington Nationals ↑ 7
  18. Boston Red Sox ↓ 15
  19. Toronto Blue Jays ↑ 7
  20. Milwaukee Brewers
  21. Texas Rangers ↓ 10
  22. Arizona Diamondbacks ↓ 5
  23. Cincinnati Reds ↓ 5
  24. Chicago Cubs ↓ 2
  25. Pittsburgh Pirates ↑ 2
  26. Kansas City Royals ↑ 3
  27. Cleveland Indians ↑ 3
  28. New York Mets ↓ 5
  29. Houston Astros ↓ 3
  30. Baltimore Orioles ↓ 11

It’s early, you can fully expect these numbers to change as the next five and a half months play out. Unless you are the Mets; you’re right where you should be.

Green Things Invade the AL East

One of the purely beautiful things about live sporting events is the things that cameras capture. For example, it seems that Red Sox fans have finally found a way to unearth a more productive left-handed bat than David Ortiz.

Sure, he’s green, slightly crusty, and sticks to the end of your finger, but…wait, never mind. The Sawwwwx fan just ate him.

Just down the road in New York, it seems that Yankee Stadium actually may have been built in Hangar 18.

Photos hat tip: Deadspin

There’s just no way that is human. Look at the misshapen head, the odd oblong eyes, and the mysterious blank stare…and that green guy in the stands looks a bit strange as well.

The 2010 Dubsism Major League Baseball Pre-Season Rankings

Rankings By Division:

American League:

AL East:

1) New York Yankees

Upside: The Bombers easily could have turned on the money-hose and flooded out free-agents like Jason Bay or Matt Holliday, or they could have wasted some serious dough by resigning an over-valued Johnny Damon. But, instead of having their usual explosive cash-gasm, they realized their in-house options are just fine. They finally seem to understand that you don’t necessarily need a 30-homer guy in the ninth spot in the batting order.  Rather, the Pinstripes traded away a bunch of Grade B prospects for the more budget-friendly likes of Curtis Granderson and Javier Vazquez. After all, what do you really need to do when you are the defending World Series champs yet another goddamn time…

Downside: Yankee Stadium is getting suspiciously close to looking like an assisted-living facility. The Yankees roster contains so many “seasoned veterans” that it’s a good bet there will be more than one pair of support hose under those pinstripes. Oh and somebody really needs to find a way to keep A.J. Burnett from having the “Hindenburg” inning that tends to flame out his starts.

2) Boston Red Sox

Upside: The Red Sox will field a very complete and deep squad, one that will be better than everybody except the one team they desperately want to beat. The Sawwwx offer three starters who would be aces on more rotations than not, their defense doesn’t have it’s usual Bahhh-ston Hahhh-bahhh sized hole in it, and despite what Sawwwx fans want to believe, the offense should be just fine. Of course, math doesn’t rank high in the skill sets of most Sawwwx fans, which explains why last year’s allegedly non-steroid-enhanced lineup accounted for a mere 10 homers less than allegedly juiced 2004 edition.

Downside: The astonishing lack of obvious holes on which their inevitable August slide can be attributed. Sure, the line-up still contains the light-bending sucking black hole known as the un-Ramirez-protected David Ortiz and nearly every pitching staff gets as shaky as Haitian construction techniques at the fifth spot in the rotation, which means we just have to wait to see what will bring this year’s “Bucky Dent” moment.

3) Tampa Bay Rays

Upside: They are the anti-Yankees, meaning they have a shitload of young talent and they have a payroll more suggestive migrant farm workers than the caviar-encrusted platinum jock straps of the Bronx Bombers. Whether or not the Rays sucker-punch their way past the Yanks or the Sawwwx for the promised land of October baseball, this team will give fits of apoplexy to veteran-fueled opponents with their raw athleticism. The odds of this increase significantly if the Rays next wave of prospects (particularly Desmond Jennings and Jeremy Hellickson) pan out as some “experts” expect.

Downside: If this team hits the trade deadline looking like it is out of reach to throw that October sucker-punch, the Rays could be parted out like a Chinese prisoner “volunteered” for organ donation. Case in point: the pending free agency of Carl Crawford who is already rumored to be on Yankee manager Joe Girardi’s line-up card for Opening Day 2011.

4) Baltimore Orioles

Upside: The O’s are another AL East squad resplendent with young talent, especially catcher Matt Wieters, who could prove to be a discount-store version of Joe Mauer at the plate (maybe not average wise, but Wieters does have 25 -homer potential). Plus, the trio of Adam Jones, Nolan Reimold and Nick Markakis may very well be the best young outfield in the league.

Downside: The youth of the pitching staff, which is stocked with a talented stable of potential, most notably Brian Matusz,  Chris Tillman, and Brad Bergesen. But with that youth comes inexperience and the ever-present threat they don’t develop.

5) Toronto Blue Jays

Upside: A well-spring of young arms; hill-wise all the Blue Jays need is for two of the cruise-ship full of pitchers they brought to camp to show the potential to toss 200 innings. Behind those young hurlers, the Blue Jays will field a defensively solid squad, with the glaring exception of third baseman Edwin “Hands of Stone” Encarnacion. This should allow those young moundsmen to put the pill over the plate with a reasonable expectation their ERA’s won’t rocket toward the stratosphere.

Downside: This team is at least a few years away from contention, and even then they likely will need the Red Sox to get back to their historic “shooting themselves in both feet” tendencies and for the Yankees to set the Wayback Machine to 1984.

AL Central:

1-Tie) Chicago White Sox

Upside: The quartet of Mark Buerhle, Jake “No, Really, I’m Pretty Sure I’m OK…this time” Peavy, John Danks, and Gavin Floyd forms the backbone of the best starting rotation in the division. The South Siders should be able to stay in front of the Twins if there is they can squeeze the last bit of toothpaste out of the tubes that are the careers of Paul Konerko, Andruw Jones, and A.J. Pierzynski. Forgive me now for saying I will believe that when I see it.

Downside: The amazing number of shitty hitters the Whiteys will field. Granted, Juan Pierre and Alex Rios should allow the White Sox to play in their usual Ozzie Guillen-influenced style; in other words, swinging wildly and generally running  amok, then wringing  just enough out of an aging bat or two. As a recipe, it is clearly riskier than a good, old-fashioned game of Russian Roulette, but don’t forget the White Sox managed somehow not to blow their brains out in 2005.

1-Tie) Minnesota Twins

Upside: Carl “Scrooge McDuck” Pohlad is dead, and along with the anticipated revenue from the new ball park, the Twins have managed to jam a crowbar into their change purse. With the expected signing of Joe Mauer to a hefty-yet-deserved contract extension and the signing bonus that likely will accompany it, the Twins just might finally hurdle the $100 million salary threshold. The Pohlad family still owns the team, but at least the new billionaire-in-charge seems willing to spend when needed.

Downside: The pitching staff, which was suspect before the loss of Joe Nathan, is now officially mediocre. Scott Baker may need to hire a stand-in if he is to convince anybody he is an ace and Carl Pavano is, well, Carl Pavano. Not to mention the Twins are drawing to an inside straight on whether Francisco Liriano can be effective after the “Tommy John” surgery and the loss of confidence he put on display last season.

3) Detroit Tigers

Upside: Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Rick Porcello might be the most interesting trio from Michigan since Grand Funk Railroad.

Downside: The front office, which embarked on a cost-cutting exercise until they were reminded that they have a slough of veterans being hampered in their duties by their walkers. Their solution to this? Signing the 68-year old Johnny Damon. This means if you want to see elderly DH’s with more chins than a Shanghai phone book (Is Greg Luzinski still in the league?) chug home from second on one-hop singles, just wait for Damon in left field.

4) Kansas City Royals

Upside: Fuck everything else, to find something in print that says the Royals don’t finish last in this division may require an archealogical expedition. If for no other reason, the elevation from the cellar is due largely to the fact that no matter what else happens, Zach Grienke and Joakin Soria will pitch the Royals past the unbelievably fetid Indians.

Downside: The shockingly large number of at-bats that will be  twirled unproductively into the Twilight Zone at the hands of Scott Podsednik, Jason Kendall, Jose Guillen, Brayan Pena and Yuniesky Betancourt.

5) Cleveland Indians

Upside: As soon as we here at Dubsism find one, we’ll let you know. Wait, we’ve got one: Shin-Soo Choo hasn’t been inducted into the South Korean army…yet.

Downside: This is likely the first of many seasons to come with the Indians making reservations for the bottom of the standings.

AL West:

1) Seattle Mariners

Upside: How can you not love a one-two punch of Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee in front of a team that shits horseshoes? Seriously, this team personifies luck, as was demonstrated by the 2009 campaign that saw the M’s win 85 games even though they were outscored by 52 runs. Luck isn’t a strategy, but luckily it probably won’t take much to win this division.

Downside: The festival of mediocrity the starting rotation becomes after the aforementioned one-two punch. Plus, the wheel of karma spun by the baseball gods will not look favorably on lead-pipe cinch Hall-of-Famer, greatest player ever in the history of the franchise, and deliciously banned-substance-free Ken Griffey, Jr. being exiled from the lineup for the final time by ‘roid-rage expert and colossal asshole Milton Bradley.

2) Texas Rangers

Upside: Don’t look now, but for the first time in EVER, the Rangers have pitching depth…I’ll wait for a minute so you can let that sink in. Seriously, they’ve got eight legitimate contenders for the five rotation spots, which means they have eight more than than they’ve ever had before. It goes without saying this assumes Rich Harden doesn’t rack up seven bazillion more frequent-flyer miles on MRI Airlines.

Downside: And now for your Bizzaro world moment of the day: the Rangers can pitch and play defense, but they can’t hit! Again, I’ll wait for a minute so you can let that sink in. With suspects like Chris Davis, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden, and/or Elvis Andrus likely populating the bottom of the order, you can expect the Rangers’ team on-base percentage to hurtle over the cliff faster than Thelma and Louise. The wild-card in all of this: Josh Hamilton and his ever-present overcoming of his “obstacle du jour.” This time it is rumored to be hangnails and a persistent fear of sock puppets.

3) Los Angeles Angels

Upside: Even though he Dodger Blue during his playing days, and even though he looks more and more like Rush Limbaugh every day, you have to love Mike Scioscia. He is one of a rare breed of managers who understand tactics, strategy and how to develop and handle people.

Downside: Will the last one left in Anaheim please turn out the lights? The Halos wont miss Vladimir Guerrero, but the departures of John Lackey and Chone Figgins significantly downgrades the rotation and the lineup. This is really a concern for the pitching staff, which needs to prove itself more durable, especially Scott “Opening Soon at a Disabled List Near You” Kazmir.

Oakland A’s

Upside: The performance of A’s bullpen has historically fluctuated more than Oprah’s weight, but now they boast a rare mix of quantity and quality. Andrew Bailey, Brad Ziegler, Michael Wuertz, Joey Devine, Jerry Blevins, Craig Breslow and Brad Kilby together compose a solid group of young relievers who collectively will earn about $482 in 2010.

Downside: The $10 million pipe-dream known as Ben Sheets, and the crumbled Greek column once known as Eric Chavez’ spine. If Sheets actually manages to stay out of intensive care come the trade deadline, the A’s will likely deal him for yet another cavalcade of prospects.  More likely is that Sheets’ arm falls completely off and Oakland gets to watch $10 million swirl down the shitter. Plus, the A’s may be holding open tryouts in May to find anybody who can actually hit the damn ball.

National League:

NL East:

1) Philadelphia Phillies

Upside: Flash to the scene in “Bull Durham” is teaching Nuke Laloosh about the importance of clichés. The Phillies have no need of this lesson; they are a veritable textbook. They’re “gamers.” They “play ‘em one game at a time.” They’ve “been there before.” They “know how to finish.” Of course, the only way to get such a string of positive verbal fossils is to be the best team in baseball. Yes, you read that right, especially you Yankee fans whose blood-pressure just took a geyser-like upshot. In fact I will say it again: As of right now, the Philadelphia Phillies are the best team in baseball; fuck you, New York. Man, that felt good.

Downside: I’ll never understand what the rationale was behind the Cliff Lee/Roy Halladay swap meet. The Phillies revenue has sky-rocketed in the past five years, given their success and the resultant boost in attendance, TV ratings, jersey sales and everything else associated with the Phillies. Hell, even the Jamie Moyer Geritol is flying off the shelves. The point is the Phils easily have the dough to have kept both aces, then restocked the farm with the compensatory picks when Lee signed elsewhere this year. Speaking of pitchers, which version of Brad “Sybil” Lidge shows up this year? Is it the lights-out, shutdown closer or do we get another episode of “Meltdown Man?”

2) Atlanta Braves

Upside: While the Bravos may be lacking after dealing away its pitching depth for a prospect and a case of urinal cakes, they also don’t really show an Achilles heel. Not to mention, this is finally the last year of the Bobby Cox regime, and Jason Heyward might be the first guy to hit a home run that crosses and entire time zone.

Downside: All the bullshit we will have to live through on what will prove to be the Bobby Cox’s farewell tour. For one, I can’t wait for next year when Cox is getting kicked out of bingo games at the senior center. Here’s a little known fact: Did you know that “Jair Jurrjens” is actually an old Dutch term meaning “he who is destined to spend as much time in an MRI machine as Rich Harden?” That can’t be good.

3) Florida Marlins

Upside: The Players’ Union and how they forced world-class skinflint Jeffrey Loria to actually pony up some cash for a long-term deal for ace Josh Johnson and  getting second baseman Dan Uggla to return. Stop and think about what kind of an asshole you would have to be to make the gravy-sucking pigs from the Players’ Union look like a bastion of righteousness and moral certainty; Loria is every bit that cretin.

Downside: The aforementioned pinch-those-pennies-so-hard-Abe-Lincoln-bleeds-internally mentality of Loria. Follow that up with all the bullshit going on over the new-stadium,  the 40 inches of rain that comes from the heavens in ten minutes like God’s doped-up racehorse pissing on your head every afternoon at 4 p.m. sharp, and the scatter-shot approach to the bullpen, and it isn’t hard to see this franchise is literally 50 bucks away from being the Pirates.

4) New York Mets

Upside: Manager Jerry Manuel’s sense of humor will come in handy sometime right around Memorial Day when he will be joking about “having time to play some golf” the day before the press conference announcing his firing.

Downside: The Mets’ are like the rich family on a daytime soap opera. Their front office is furnished with, amongst other amenities, hot and cold running cash. But, if you are the Mets, with wealth comes a Dr. Phil level of dysfunction. In this past off-season, the Mets couldn’t seem to figure out if they actually had an operating budget; nobody in the organization seemed to know if anybody actually knew about the star center fielder’s knees (which are dissolving like an Alka-Seltzer as we speak) and nobody can say if the team futzed with Citi Field’s dimensions in response to the whining that the park suppresses offense. Want to know a secret, Mets fans? It ain’t the ball park…

5) Washington Nationals

Upside: How can you not have a man-crush on a heart of the order featuring Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham, and Elijah Dukes? So what if the Nats’ occasionally misspell their own uniforms (the photo below is not the only example of the Gnats Nats need of “spell check. “? Don’t look know, but the Mets can easily see this team in their rear-view mirror, and if they aren’t careful, they may just start seeing the Nats’ tail-lights.

Downside: Is there something in the water in the greater Baltimore-Washington metroplex that makes sports franchise owners unconscionable assholes? An area that features Redskins’ owner and probable live-puppy eater Daniel Snyder and the Orioles’ Peter Angelos, who as a child must have wanted to be Snidely Whiplash form a vortex of ownership evil that threatens to suck in the Nats’ Theodore Lerner.

NL Central:

1) St. Louis Cardinals

Upside: Every other team in this division sucks. If the Redbirds can stay healthy, they should be on cruise control by mid-August. The cash-flooded Cubs and Astros have spent stupidly, and the Reds and Pirates can’t find anybody that still takes S&H Green Stamps, and the Brewers only have three players.

Downside: The supporting cast beneath their dwindling number of star players is dangerously thin. However, a lot of this can be cured if Colby Rasmus finally emerges.

2) Cincinnati Reds

Upside: Pure balls. What are the odds that a prospect who happens to be a left-handed pitcher toting a 100-mph fastball ends up in Cincinnati? Of course, this assumes Dusty Baker method of handling pitchers doesn’t have Aroldis Chapman’s elbow in pieces by August.

Downside: In five years, most of their roster won’t be in baseball. The cast of Scott Rolen, Orlando Cabrera, Bronson Arroyo, Aaron Harang, Francisco Cordero are all in the sunset years of thier careers. Oh, and Dusty Baker is an idiot.

3) Milwaukee Brewers

Upside: They have Ryan Braun,  Prince Fielder, and Yovani Gallardo.

Downside: Ryan and Fielder can’t take all the at-bats, and Gallardo can’t pitch every inning.

4) Chicago Cubs

Upside: The inevitable Lou Pinella meltdown. It generally happens when Lou has heard enough questions about (insert reason du jour why the Cubs suck here). This usually happens around August 1st, and treats us all to a profanity-filled tirade as only Lou can do.

Downside: All the money the Cubs have tied up in flame-outs like Alfonso Soriano and pitcher-turned-planet Carlos Zambrano.

5) Houston Astros

Upside: They have a deeper roster than the Brewers.

Downside: That isn’t saying much. The Astros field three great players and the three other solid ones. The other 19 could barely impact a Triple-A Roster. Owner Drayton McLane gives all the signs of a billionaire preparing to back away from this investment by selling the team.

6) Pittsburgh Pirates

Upside: Steve Pearce certainly shows all the signs of being the real deal.

Downside: Even when they trade Pearce, they’ll get another bag of magic beans (I’m looking at you, Lastings Milledge). What does it says about you when you get screwed in a trade with the Natinals Nationals?  It says you are the kind of organization that can have neartly twenty years of top ten draft picks and nothing to show for it.

NL West:

1) Colorado Rockies

Upside: The Rockies are the only team in the West with decent depth.  With the everyday players including Seth Smith, Ryan Spilborghs, and Melvin Mora and a bullpen including Matt Daley, and Esmil Rogers.

Downside: The alarmingly high number of at-bats that will be sacrificed in the belief that Clint Barmes is anything more than a utility player.

2) Los Angeles Dodgers

Upside: Despite the facts that every left-handed pitcher in the world is issued a Certificate of Ownerhship at birth for Andre Ethier, and Manny Ramirez plays left field like he is in a bar-league softball tournament, the trio of Ethier, Ramirez and Matt Kemp are the best outfield in baseball.

Downside: The shaky, flaky nature of the pitching staff. Letting Randy Wolf leave means the Dodgers are dependent on the inconsistent Clayton Kershaw and a Chad Billingsley who spent the end of last season crying in the fetal position.

3) Arizona Diamondbacks

Upside: Justin Upton, who just makes you want to believe.

Downside: Trading Max Scherzer for another shot at Edwin Jackson, who is due for another good month any day now…after all, in his seven years in the league, he’s already had two of them.  Their next best pitcher is the post-aneurysm surgery slop artist Ian Kennedy has become.

4) San Francisco Giants

Upside: The starting rotation: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, the catastrophe formerly known as Barry Zito, and Jonathan Sanchez. Is there a better foursome out there?

Downside: The Giants hit like a T-ball team. This team was batting Bengie Molina (20 HR, 80 RBI .265 avg.) in the four-spot last year in an attempt to protect Pablo Sandoval, the only respectable bat they have. To improve on that, the Giants are turning to the suspiciously-close-to-finished Aubrey Huff (15 HR, 85 RBI, and .241 avg).

5) San Diego Padres

Upside: GM Kevin Towers always seems to find players whose skills play well in that airport spacious park they have.

Downside: Towers is lucky he has this ability, otherwise the trade deadline would be no fun for him. Look for Adrian Gonzalez, Heath Bell, and Jon Garland to all be on a plane by July 31st.

Overall Team-by-Team Ranking

  1. Philadelphia Phillies
  2. New York Yankees
  3. Boston Red Sox
  4. Tampa Bay Rays
  5. Colorado Rockies
  6. St. Louis Cardinals
  7. Seattle Mariners
  8. Atlanta Braves
  9. Chicago White Sox
  10. Minnesota Twins
  11. Texas Rangers
  12. Florida Marlins
  13. Los Angeles Dodgers
  14. Detroit Tigers
  15. Los Angeles Angels
  16. Arizona Diamondbacks
  17. San Francisco Giants
  18. Cincinnati Reds
  19. Baltimore Orioles
  20. Milwaukee Brewers
  21. Oakland A’s
  22. Chicago Cubs
  23. New York Mets
  24. Washington Nationals
  25. San Diego Padres
  26. Houston Astros
  27. Pittsburgh Pirates
  28. Toronto Blue Jays
  29. Kansas City Royals
  30. Cleveland Indians
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