It has been an interesting few days in our coverage of the ongoing Jamie Moyer saga here at Dubsism.
First, on Saturday Moyer seemingly put an abrupt end to his pitching career which has spanned four decades when he asked for his release from the Orioles, and his wish was granted. This came as a bit of a shock seeing as when Moyer signed a minor-league deal with the Orioles in early June, he told the club he’d make three starts at Triple-A Norfolk, and then the Orioles would have a decision to make on whether or not to promote him. In those three starts, Moyer went 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA, he gave up just 11 hits and no walks in 16 innings pitched while striking out 16. That certainly seemed to be good enough for the O’s to bring Moyer up considering the pitching woes they’ve had.
Well, not according to Orioles Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette. The Orioles, who are for the time being a contender in the AL East passed on Moyer, prompting him to ask for his release. This is how Duquette explained this to the Baltimore Sun:
Duquette said the Orioles already have two lefties in the rotation in Brian Matusz and Wei-Yin Chen, plus swingman Dana Eveland in the bullpen. And lefty Zach Britton is in Norfolk, as is right-hander Chris Tillman, who has been pitching well lately.
Uhhh, what ever you say Dan. Those four hunks of chop-meat are why you signed Moyer in the first place, but hey, it’s your funeral. Out of the guys Duquette mentioned, Chen is arguably the best, and he ain’t all that good, and Brian Matusz is threatening to be a “Kerry Wood” type model in under-realized potential. Let’s be honest, nobody really believes the Orioles can survive the AL East, especially not with the pitching staff taking on water like it has been. Let’s be even more honest, the Orioles are this season supplanting the Toronto Blue Jays in the role of the AL East’s “Little Engine That Thinks It Can,” except Toronto realized that its pitching staff is imploding faster Oprah Winfrey’s latest diet plan, and they saw value in Moyer.
That’s right…say hello to your newest Toronto Blue Jay, Jamie Moyer.
Last night in Boston, the Blue Jays lost their fourth starter in two weeks when Henderson Alvarez left the game in the sixth inning with right elbow soreness. The MASH unit formerly known as the Blue Jays pitching staff has also seen Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek, and Drew Hutchison sidelined with arm issues.
To that end, the Jays have made two moves this morning. First, they recalled pitcher Scott Richmond from the minors and he is expected to join the team tonight in in Boston and pitch out of the bullpen for the time being. The Jays also signed Moyer this morning, but before he gets a steady diet of Molson and back bacon, he will be assigned to Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas, with no timetable having been established at this point as to when Moyer will join the big league club.
Your Jamie Moyer Fact of the Day: If Moyer makes the Blue Jays 25-man major league roster, he will be teammates with the 45-year old Omar Vizquel, who this season became the became the oldest player to start a game at shortstop for Toronto.
So pass the Geritol and take off, ya hoser.
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
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
Over on Listverse, there has been another great-yet-odd list compiled. While the subject doesn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that I found it comparable to a somehow-sports-related screed, it is really hard to resist a list of people who were killed by radiation. Just think, the same power that heats up your lunch in 90 seconds can also reduce you to a pile of symptoms like severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rapid hair loss, infections, edema, high fever, and coma and/or death.
Of course, terrible sports coaches and managers are another force that can turn you into a retching pile of guts. So, it only seems natural to compare 10 great deaths by radiation sickness with 10 notorious sackings of sports leaders.
#10) Cecil Kelley
On December 30, 1958 an accident occurred in the Los Alamos plutonium-processing facility. Cecil Kelley, an experienced chemical operator was working with a large mixing tank. The solution in tank was supposed to be “lean”, typically less than 0.1 grams of plutonium per liter. However, the concentration on that day was actually 200 times higher. When Kelley switched on the stirrer, the liquid in the tank formed a vortex and the plutonium containing layer went critical releasing a huge burst of neutrons and gamma radiation in a pulse that lasted a mere 200 microseconds.
Kelley, who had been standing on a foot ladder peering into the tank through a viewing window, fell or was knocked to the floor. Two other operators on duty saw a bright flash and heard a dull thud. Quickly, they rushed to help and found Kelley incoherent and saying only, “I’m burning up! I’m burning up!”. He was rushed to the hospital, semiconscious, retching, vomiting, and hyperventilating. At the hospital, Kelly’s bodily excretions were sufficiently radioactive to give a positive reading on a detector.
Two hours after the accident, Kelley’s condition improved as he regained coherence. However, it was soon clear that Kelley would not survive long. Tests showed his bone marrow was destroyed, and the pain in his abdomen became difficult to control despite medication. Kelley died 35 hours after the accident.
Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Bum Phillips Being Fired by the Houston Oilers
All Bum Phillips did was usher in the “Luv Ya Blue” era for the Oilers; you know, that fleeting glimpse of time when pro football in Houston didn’t suck. But much like Kelly, Phillips’ demise wasn’t his own fault. Phillips got the gate in Houston because he was unable to do something nobody in the 70′s could; beat the Pittsburgh Steelers.
#9) Harry K. Daghnian, Jr.
Harry K. Daghlian, Jr. was an Armenian-American physicist with the Manhattan Project. On August 21, 1945 he was conducting an experiment attempting to build a neutron reflector by manually stacking a series of tungsten carbide bricks around a plutonium core. As he was moving the final block over the assembly, neutron counters alerted Daghlian to the fact that the addition of this brick would render the system supercritical. As he withdrew his hand, he accidentally dropped the brick onto the center of the assembly. The addition of this last brick caused the reaction to go immediately supercritical.
Daghnian panicked immediately after dropping the brick and attempted to knock off the brick without success. He was forced to partially disassemble the tungsten carbide pile to halt the reaction causing him to receive a lethal dose of neutron radiation. He died 25 days later. Daghlian was violating safety regulations by working on the assembly late at night and alone in the laboratory.
Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Dennis Green Being Fired By the Minnesota Vikings
Nothing defines the Dennis Green era in Minnesota quite like pure, uncut incompetence. Green clearly Sadly, Green’s death took longer than 25 days; Denny lingered for ten years, a decade that saw the Vikings win absolutely nothing despite having monstrously talented teams. But as we know now, nothing destroys talent quite like stupidity.
#8 ) Louis Slotin
Louis Slotin was a Canadian physicist and chemist who took part in the Manhattan Project that created the first atomic bombs. He participated in criticality testing of plutonium cores, often referred to as “tickling the dragon’s tail.”
On May 21, 1946 Slotin and seven other colleagues performed an experiment that involved the creation of one of the first steps of a fission reaction by placing two half-spheres of beryllium around a plutonium core. Slotin was stabilizing the upper beryllium sphere with his left hand using the blade of a screwdriver to maintain the separation between the two half-spheres in violation of experimental protocol. At 3:20pm the screwdriver slipped causing the upper beryllium sphere to fall creating a prompt critical reaction and a burst of radiation. Scientists in the room observed a blue glow around the spheres and felt a heat wave.
Slotin instinctively jerked his left hand upward, lifting the upper beryllium hemisphere and dropping it to the floor, ending the reaction. However, Slotin had already been exposed to a lethal dose of radiation, equivalent to the amount that he would have received had he been 1500m away from an atomic bomb detonation. He was rushed to the hospital immediately, but the damage was irreversible and he died nine days later on May 30, 1946. The core he dropped was the very same core dropped by Daghnian the year before – causing it to be named the Demon Core.
Slotin’s story is integrated in the movie, “Fat Man and Little Boy” starring Paul Newman and John Cusack.
Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Anybody who hired, then fired Gene Mauch after 1964.
Nobody seems to learn the lesson; safety regulations exist for a reason. Somebody somewhere somewhat smarter than you already knew that you shouldn’t stand on the top rung of the ladder, nor should you grab the overhead wire. That’s why there is usually a sign or a label; some sort of warning that what you are about to do is a bad idea.
Gene Mauch should have come with just such a label. Clearly, the other signs were not visible enough…the collapse of the 1964 Phillies, the malaise that was the Montreal Expos in the early 70′s, and the Angels’ playoff choke-jobs in the 80′s…Mauch kept a level of respect in baseball that he kept getting hired even after just having been fired for complete ineptitude.
#7) Eben McBurney Byers
Eben McBurney Byers was a wealthy American socialite, athlete, and industrialist. In 1927 while returning via chartered train from the annual Harvard-Yale football game, Byers fell from his berth and injured his arm. He complained of persistent pain and a doctor suggested that he take Radithor, a patent medicine containing high concentrations of radium. Byers drank nearly 1400 bottles over three years. By 1930, when Byers stopped taking the remedy, he had accumulated significant amounts of radium in his bones resulting in the loss of most of his jaw. Byers’ brain was also abscessed and holes were forming in his skull. He died from radium poisoning on March 31, 1932. He is buried in Allegheny Cemetery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in a lead-lined coffin.
Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Kevin McHale Being Fired by the The Minnesota Timberwolves.
Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor seems to have been drinking the Radithor for years. While Kevin “McFail” was busy taking that franchise from the conference finals all the way to the bottom of the lottery, Taylor just sat idly by, obviously letting something eat through his brain. It might as well be radium. Not only that, but when you get mistaken for the handicapped kid from “Glee,” you should just give it up.
#6) Hiroshi Couchi
Japan’s worst nuclear radiation accident took place at a uranium reprocessing facility in Tokaimura, northeast of Tokyo, on September 30, 1999. The direct cause of the criticality accident was workers putting uranyl nitrate solution containing about 16.6 kg of uranium, exceeding the critical mass, into a precipitation tank. The tank was not designed to dissolve this type of solution and was not configured to prevent eventual criticality.
Three workers were exposed to lethal radiation doses. One of these workers, Hiroshi Couchi, was transferred to the University of Tokyo Hospital and three days after the accident he could talk and only his right hand was a little swollen with redness. However, his condition gradually weakened as the radioactivity broke down the chromosomes in his cells.
The doctors were at a loss as to what to do. There were few precedents and proven medical treatments for victims of radiation poisoning. A local television crew followed the story for 83 days until Hiroshi died. Their observations are chronicled in the book, “A Slow Death: 83 Days of Radiation Sickness.”
Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Jimy Williams Being Fired by the Toronto Blue Jays.
Tony Kornheiser explained this with his coining of one of the great baseball nicknames of all time. In the 80′s, Jimy Williams found himself with a dilemma. It seemed the Toronto outfield wasn’t large enough for all-star George Bell and a rookie nobody had ever heard of. Williams was instrumental in Bell’s departure for Chicago, and his eventual firing should tell you how well that worked. This is how Jimy “I’ve got to make room for Sil Campusano” Williams essentially killed himself.
#5) Marie Curie
Marie Sklodowska Curie was a physicist and chemist and a pioneer in the field of radioactivity. In fact, it was Curie that coined the term radioactivity, though Henri Becquerel discovered the phenomenon years earlier. Curies research into the properties of two different uranium ores, pitchblende and chalcolite. led to the discovery of radium and polonium, other radioactive elements. Curie’s husband, Pierre, was so intrigued by her research that he decided to suspend his own research to join her.
The Curies undertook the arduous task of separating radium out of pitchblende ore. From a ton of pitchblende, one-tenth of a gram of radium chloride was separated. Unfortunately, the Curies were unaware of the deleterious health effects of repeated unprotected radiation exposure. Pierre Curie died in 1906 after being hit and run over by a horse drawn carriage, however Marie lived for another 28 years continuing her research and eventually winning two Nobel prizes. She often carried test tubes containing radioactive isotopes in her pocket and stored them in her desk drawer, remarking on the pretty blue-green light that the substances gave off in the dark.
Marie Curie died on July 4, 1934 due to aplastic anemia contracted from exposure to radiation. She is interred at the cemetery in Sceaux, alongside her husband Pierre. Her laboratory is preserved at the Musee Curie. Due to their levels of radioactivity, her papers from the 1890’s are considered too dangerous to handle. Even her cookbook is highly radioactive. They are kept in lead-lined boxes, and those who wish to consult them must wear protective clothing.
Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Houston Nutt Being Run Out of the University of Arkansas.
There’s a link between being a genius innovator and succumbing to your own success. There’s also something to be said for getting caught banging the local news anchorette. But much like the Curies and their relentless search for radium, Nutt never seems to be satisfied with whatever job he currently holds. The aforementioned wandering eye at Arkansas contributed to an early departure. The same was true at Murray State and Boise State where Nutt always seemed to be interviewing for the next job instead of focusing on the current one.
#4) Alexander Litvinenko
Alexander Litvinenko was a former KGB officer who escaped prosecution in Russia and received political asylum in the United Kingdom . In November of 2006 he suddenly fell ill and was hospitalized. He died three weeks later and post-mortem tests showed he had been given a lethal dose of Polonium-210 via a cup of tea. On his deathbed, Litvinenko accused Russian president Vladimir Putin of being behind his death.
Subsequent investigations by British authorities into the circumstances of Litvinenko’s death led to serious diplomatic difficulties between the British and Russian governments. Unofficially, British authorities asserted that “we are 100% sure who administered the poison, where and how”. However they did not disclose their evidence in the interest of a future trial. The main suspect in the case, a former officer of the Russian Federal Protective Service (FSO) Andrei Lugovoy, remains in Russia. As a member of the Duma, he now enjoys immunity from prosecution.
Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Tubby Smith Being Fired by the University of Kentucky.
Tubby Smith clearly fell out of favor with the politburo in Lexington. But what can you say about the Soviet-style delusion of the University of Kentucky. How do you exile into the gulag a guy who won you a national championship, who wins nearly eighty percent of his games, and is universally respected?
#3) Soviet Submarine K-19
K-19 was one of the first two Soviet submarines equipped with nuclear ballistic missiles. Several people had died during its construction earning it the nickname “Hiroshima” among naval sailors and officers. On July 4, 1961 under the command of Captain Nikolai Vladimirovich Zateyev, K-19 developed a major leak in her reactor coolant system causing the reactor temperature to rise to a very dangerous 800 deg. Celsius. Due to poor design and failure to have a backup cooling system installed, Captain Zateyev had no choice but to order a team of seven engineering officers in crew to undertake a repair despite the lethal rates of radiation exposure.
The repair crew was successful in stopping the leak however all seven were dead within a week. The incident contaminated the entire boat and within a few years twenty more crew members were dead attributed to the incident at sea.
The Soviet Navy made extensive repairs to boat and it later returned to service. It did, however, continue to experience horrible accidents including an at-sea collision in 1969 and a fire in 1972 killing 28 sailors. It was finally decommissioned in 1991.
The movie “K-19: The Widowmaker” starring Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson is loosely based on the nuclear accident on the K-19.
Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Manny Acta Being Fired by the Washington Nationals.
Blaming a manager for the woeful performance of the Washington Nationals is like shooting out all your light bulbs to make the sun go down. How do you expect anybody to manage anything with no pitching and an opening day lineup consisting of Daniel Cabrera, Elijah Dukes, Adam Dunn, Jesus Flores, Cristian Guzman, Anderson Hernandez, Nick Johnson, Lastings Milledge, and Ryan Zimmerman? Sure, Jim Riggleman wriggled more wins out of this roster, but this team still hasn’t cracked the 70-win mark, unless they win three of their last five in 2010.
On April 26, 1986 a nuclear accident occurred on the Number 4 reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine. Workers at the plant were planning a test to determine how long turbines would spin and supply power to the main circulating pumps following a loss of main electrical power. Due to another regional power station going offline, the test was delayed and as a result, the test was conducted over the night shift where the workers had not been trained on the test procedure. Several subsequent errors, including a decision to disable automatic shutdown mechanisms, led to an unstable reactor configuration with nearly all of the control rods removed.
The reactor SCRAMed (rapid insertion of all control rods) but a flaw in the design of the control rods actually caused the reaction rate in the lower half of the core to increase. At this point, a massive power spike occurred and the core overheated. The precise subsequent course of events was not registered by instruments; it is known only as a result of a mathematical simulation. What is known is that there was a large steam buildup in the core that eventually exploded releasing tons of radioactive steam and fission products into the air. Radiation levels in the vicinity of the reactor core after the explosion were 30,000 times the lethal limit.
One person was killed immediately and his body was never found. Another died that same day as a result of injuries received during the explosion. Acute radiation sickness was originally diagnosed in 237 people on-site and involved with the clean-up and it was later confirmed in 134 cases. Of these 28 people died within weeks of the accident, six of whom were firefighters tasked with attending the fires on the roof of the turbine building. Nineteen more subsequently died between 1987 and 2004. Nobody off-site suffered from acute radiation effects, although a large proportion of childhood thyroid cancers diagnosed since the accident is likely to be due to intake of radioactive iodine fallout. Subsequent studies in the Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus estimate over 1 million people were affected by radiation from Chernobyl, however the extent of its effects may never be truly known.
Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Any coach who was fired by the Detroit Lions during the Matt Millen years.
Can you think of a bigger sports meltdown than the Lions? Millen was President and CEO of the Detroit Lions from 2000 until 2008, an era that saw the worst eight-year record in the history of the modern NFL (31-97). The coashes under Millen (Gary Moeller, Marty Mornhinweg, Steve Mariucci, Dick Jauron, and Rod Marinelli) might as well have been the firefighters at Chernobyl.
#1) Hiroshima and Nagasaki
The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan at the end of World War II have been the only time in history such weapons have been used on people. The justification for the bombings has been hotly debated since, but no doubt the memory of their destruction has been a large reason why they have been not used since.
On August 6, 1945 the uranium bomb, “Little Boy”, was dropped on Hiroshima killing 70,000-80,000 people immediately. Three days later, the plutonium bomb, “Fat Man”, was dropped on Nagasaki killing an estimated 40,000-75,000 instantly. Those that survived the initial blasts were then subject to severe radiation and thermal burns, radiation sickness and related diseases all aggravated by the lack of medical resources. It is estimated that another 200,000 people had died by 1950 as a result of health effects of the bombings.
Surviving victims of the bombings are known as hibakusha, a Japanese word that literally translates to “explosion-affected people.” As of March 31, 2009 235,569 hibakusha were recognized by the Japanese government. The government of Japan recognizes about 1% of these as having illnesses caused by radiation.
Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Lou Holtz Running Out on the New York Jets.
If there was anybody that needed to be bombed in order to save lives, it was Lou Holtz’ NFL career. Every NFL general manager should be forced to print that picture and place it in a prominent space as a constant reminder of the danger of hiring college coaches. Every once in a while you get lucky with a Jimmy Johnson, but odds are you get another Pete Carroll, Steve Spurrier, Nick Saban, Bobby Petrino, Barry Switzer, Dennis Erickson, Butch Davis, or Lou Holtz; who mere months after signing a five-year contract quit with three games left in the season, leaving the Jets to finishe 3-13.
For me, the All-Star break has always represented the “far turn” in the horse race that is the Major League Baseball season. This is the point when general managers acting as jockeys must decide whether they are contenders or pretenders; whether to go to the whip (trade for talent to augment a “stretch run”) or “wait for next year” (have a fire sale).
This is why the rumor mills are always abuzz in the weeks around this time. Even before we can get to that buzz, the Blue Jays have decided they are selling, and the Rangers are clearly buying. The Braves grabbed a veteran shortstop while doing a bit “addition by subtraction” by sending perennial underacheiver Yuniel Escobar to Toronto in exchange for Alex Gonzalez. On the other side of the coin, the Rangers finally discovered that pitching might be the key to a run through October by acquiring all-star caliber pitcher Cliff Lee from the Mariners, who were clearly over-rated to start the season.
Speaking of pre-season ratings, the far turn is also a good place to really look at how wrong your prognostications were. While the Blue Jays gave us a nice surprise for a while, ultimately they are showing they don’t have the ponies to run with the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox. Meanwhile teams that looked to be at the front of the pack are running like they shattered a collective leg.
For example, the Phillies entered this campaign as the defending National League champions; for 10 weeks they played as such. However, for the past six, they have forgotten how to score, and for large stretches of that time the ageless wonder Jamie Moyer has been a more effective pitcher than the bazillion-dollar ace Roy Halladay. The turning point came during that Mets series in June when the Phillies’ seemingly discovered how to score negative runs.
In contrast, the Minnesota Twins never really had such a clear-cut moment spelling doom. Instead, the Twins seem to be on a march toward “death by a thousand cuts;” every day brings a new seemingly small problem that while insignificant by itself, in total they become a blow to the system that can’t be overcome. The loss of uber-stud Justin Morneau to a concussion could have been that fatal blow if only the Twins weren’t 90% of the way to bleeding out by then.
Peruse the full rankings and draw your own conclusions. The numbers behind each team indicate change from the previous ranking. Teams with the biggest changes from the last ranking are in are in bold. The teams with the biggest difference between their preseason ranking and their current position are in italics.
- New York Yankees ↑ 1 (Pre-season rank #2)
- Tampa Bay Rays ↓ 1 (Pre-season rank #4)
- Atlanta Braves ↑ 1 (Pre-season rank #8)
- San Diego Padres ↑ 2 (Pre-season rank #25)
- Boston Red Sox ↑ 8 (Pre-season rank #3)
- Texas Rangers ↑ 11 (Pre-season rank #11)
- Chicago White Sox ↑ 14 (Pre-season rank #9)
- Colorado Rockies ↑ 10 (Pre-season rank #5)
- Los Angeles Dodgers ↑ 2 (Pre-season rank # 13)
- Cincinnati Reds ↓ 1 (Pre-season rank #18)
- Detroit Tigers ↑ 1 (Pre-season rank #14)
- New York Mets ↑ 7 (Pre-season rank #23)
- San Francisco Giants ↑ 1 (Pre-season rank #17)
- St. Louis Cardinals ↓ 6 (Pre-season rank #6)
- Los Angeles Angels ↓ 5 (Pre-season rank #15)
- Philadelphia Phillies ↓ 11 (Pre-season rank #1)
- Minnesota Twins ↓ 14 (Pre-season rank #10)
- Toronto Blue Jays ↓ 11 (Pre-season rank #28)
- Oakland Athletics ↓ 3 (Pre-season rank #21)
- Florida Marlins ↓ 5 (Pre-season rank #12)
- Chicago Cubs ↑ 1 (Pre-season rank #22)
- Milwaukee Brewers ↑ 1 (Pre-season rank#20)
- Kansas City Royals ↑ 1 (Pre-season rank #29)
- Washington Nationals ↓ 4 (Pre-season rank #24)
- Houston Astros ↑ 1 (Pre-season rank #26)
- Seattle Mariners ↓ 1 (Pre-season rank #7)
- Cleveland Indians ↑ 2 (Pre-season rank #30)
- Arizona Diamondbacks ↓ 1 (Pre-season rank #16)
- Pittsburgh Pirates ↓ 2 (Pre-season rank # 27)
- Baltimore Orioles ↔ (Pre-season rank #19)
Doesn’t it just seem right that since we are roughly a third of the way through the baseball season, we would release our third set of team-by team rankings? With each team having approximately 57 games under their belts, there should by now be a fairly clear picture of who the contenders and the pretenders are. Granted, guessing in the first week in June who will still be standing at the end of September is a bit like playing a hand of 7-card stud with only two cards on the table, but you should at least have a solid idea who has an “ace in the hole” and who is holding a big bag of bluff.
The Rockies clearly have an ace showing in Ubaldo Jimenez. With all the perfect game hullabaloo flying about, Jimenez’ 11-1 record and microscopic ERA haven’t been getting the attention they deserve. The problem: that ace has no kicker; the next best pitcher on the Rockies’ staff is arguably either the injured Jorge De La Rosa or the nearly anonymous Jhoulys Chacin.
It’s probably that lack of “Aces Up” that led us to be so wrong on the Padres and Blue Jays. Don’t look now, but the Padres have quietly strung together more wins than another team in the last calendar year. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are in the thick of the race in the AL East, having just taken two of three from the Yankees and have a big series in Tampa this week.
The Giants are loaded with aces like Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, but unlike poker, baseball is a game in which you need a few clubs in order to win, and the bat rack in San Francisco just doesn’t have any thump in it. On the other hand, the Cincinnati Reds are getting plenty of thump out of the likes of Jonny Gomes, Joey Votto and the suddenly resurgent Scott Rolen. They also are working on their own collection of solid young pitchers, such as Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Aroldis Chapman (the phenom still fine-tuning at AAA Louisville), and if Edinson Volquez can regain his 200+ strikeout from following elbow surgery, this team may hold more than one surprise down the stretch.
But, there are still a lot of cards to come. Peruse the full rankings and draw your own conclusions. The numbers behind each team indicate change from the previous ranking. Teams with the biggest changes from the last ranking are in are in bold. The teams with the biggest difference between their preseason ranking and their current position are in italics.
- Tampa Bay Rays ↑ 3 (Pre-season Rank – #4)
- New York Yankees ↓ 1 (Pre-season Rank – #2)
- Minnesota Twins ↔ (Pre-season Rank – #10)
- Atlanta Braves ↑ 6 (Pre-season Rank – #8)
- Philadelphia Phillies ↓ 3 (Pre-season Rank – #1)
- San Diego Padres ↑ 10 (Pre-season Rank – #25)
- Toronto Blue Jays ↑ 12 (Pre-season Rank – #28)
- St. Louis Cardinals ↓3 (Pre-season Rank – #6)
- Cincinnati Reds ↑ 14 (Pre-season Rank – #18)
- Los Angeles Angels ↑ 3 (Pre-season Rank – #15)
- Los Angeles Dodgers ↑ 3 (Pre-season Rank – #13)
- Detroit Tigers ↓ 1 (Pre-season Rank – #14)
- Boston Red Sox ↑ 6 (Pre-season Rank – #3)
- San Francisco Giants ↓ 8 (Pre-season Rank – #17)
- Florida Marlins ↓ 8 (Pre-season Rank – #12)
- Oakland A’s ↓ 8 (Pre-season Rank – #21)
- Texas Rangers ↑ 4 (Pre-season Rank – #11)
- Colorado Rockies ↓ 9 (Pre-season Rank – #5)
- New York Mets* ↑ 9 (Pre-season Rank – #23)
- Washington Nationals ↓ 3 (Pre-season Rank – #24)
- Chicago White Sox ↓ 6 (Pre-season Rank – #9)
- Chicago Cubs ↑ 2 (Pre-season Rank – #22)
- Milwaukee Brewers ↓ 2 (Pre-season Rank – #20)
- Kansas City Royals ↑ 2 (Pre-season Rank – #29)
- Seattle Mariners ↓ 13 (Pre-season Rank – #7)
- Houston Astros ↑ 3 (Pre-season Rank – #26)
- Arizona Diamondbacks ↓ 5 (Pre-season Rank – #16)
- Pittsburgh Pirates ↓ 3 (Pre-season Rank – #27)
- Cleveland Indians ↓ 2 (Pre-season Rank – #30)
- Baltimore Orioles ↔ (Pre-season Rank – #19)
* Before you ask why the Mets and their 33 wins are ranked so low, it’s because they are the definition of “Blue smoke and mirrors.” The Oliver Perez debacle is just a harbinger of things to come in Queens.
Rankings By Division:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- Philadelphia Phillies
- New York Yankees
- Boston Red Sox
- Tampa Bay Rays
- Colorado Rockies
- St. Louis Cardinals
- Seattle Mariners
- Atlanta Braves
- Chicago White Sox
- Minnesota Twins
- Texas Rangers
- Florida Marlins
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Detroit Tigers
- Los Angeles Angels
- Arizona Diamondbacks
- San Francisco Giants
- Cincinnati Reds
- Baltimore Orioles
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Oakland A’s
- Chicago Cubs
- New York Mets
- Washington Nationals
- San Diego Padres
- Houston Astros
- Pittsburgh Pirates
- Toronto Blue Jays
- Kansas City Royals
- Cleveland Indians