TLSBOE Hands Out Awards: Rookie of the Year (Part 1)

Posted June 1, 2011 by Matthew Faris
Categories: Uncategorized

Over the next couple of days, I’m going to go through some candidates (as well as my personal picks) for various Baseball Awards such as Rookie of the Year, Cy Young Award, MVP, etc.  These are the two-month versions, so they are obviously going to change by the end of the year, but posts like this are always fun to read and write.

For today, we’ll be looking at Rookie of the Year.  For each league, I’ll look at three guys who have strong cases, and then choose one of them and tell you why I think they’re more valuable/deserving of the award.

National League:

Danny Espinosa – He’s a Second Baseman for the Washington Nationals, and part of the young core that’s slowly rising through the National’s Farm, looking to give the D.C. Area something to cheer for.  He’s got a batting line of .217/.311/.461, with 10 Home Runs on the no-longer-young season, as well as 33 RBI’s and 4 Stolen Bases.  He’s doing a little bit of everything for this Nationals team, and Fangraphs also likes his glove a lot, with him being an above average defender so far.  His BABIP is .228, which is very low, especially compared to the ones he had in the minor leagues, which were all above .300, so his average and OBP is bound to rise a good amount.  Overall, he’s a very solid player, and valuable to any team.  He’s got good pop for a 2B, although he’s never going to be near the top of the Home Run charts, he’ll probably be at Juan Uribe-type levels, if not a little lower.

Craig Kimbrel – He’s a Relief Pitcher (and as far as I know, Closer) for the Atlanta Braves.  He’s got 15 saves so far (although he also had 4 Blown Saves) and he’s recording a lot of outs with the strikeout.  He’s striking out about 13 Batters/9 Innings, and also walking about 4 Batters/9 Innings.  He’s very similar to Chicago’s Carlos Marmol – wild, but very effective because of his ability to strike out anybody.  He’s got a 3.00/1.90/2.23 line (ERA, FIP, X-FIP), which is very solid.   For the most part, he’s shutting down opposing lineups, and securing wins for Atlanta.  He throws a hard fastball and a hard slider, and hitters have been unable to make any contact at all.  Atlanta appears to have their closer for the near future, and should they find an even better reliever, Kimbrel would easily serve as a good set-up man.

Darwin Barney – He’s also a Second Baseman, but he plays for the Chicago Cubs.  He took the starting job from former Dodger Blake DeWitt with his good glove and decent bat, and has hit well enough to hold onto it for the rest of the year.  He’s got a batting line of .310/.332/.391, with 1 Home Run, 25 RBIs, and 3 Stolen Bases.  Compared to Espinosa, he’s a better contact hitter, but that OBP has to concern you if you’re a Cubs fan, because it’s obvious that he’s not going to be taking many walks all year, which means his ability to get on base is almost completely tied to his ability to get hits.  His BABIP is close to his career average, so he’s not getting terribly lucky or unlucky, but if he ever does, both the Average and OBP are going to drop tremendously.  In addition, Fangraphs doesn’t care for his glove much, even though he has a reputation of being a great defender.  Overall, he’s a solid hitter who could use some patience at the plate.

My pick for the NL Rookie of the Year: Danny Espinosa.  I was originally going to pick Kimbrel, but after some thought, Espinosa seemed more valuable because he’s a complete player, but he’s not just a closer.  He plays in way more innings, so he has the capability to make a much bigger impact for his team.  Barney has a very empty batting line, so I liked Espinosa over him as well.  Espinosa is a complete player though.  He will hit for average when his BABIP rises, so his OBP will also increase, and he’s got good pop, especially for a Middle Infielder.  In addition, he’s got a good glove, and can probably steal a base whenever he’s called on to do so.  The one thing I want to point out, is that Espinosa has a Batting Average that is almost 100 points lower than Barney’s, but his OBP is only 21 points lower.  That’s pretty crazy.

There you have it.  Danny Espinosa is the NL Two-Month Rookie of the Year.  I had planned to break down the Al award in this post, but finding all the stats for those three players took much longer than I expected.  Although really, this post will probably be irrelevant in a month when Jerry Sands hits eleventy billion Home Runs and propels the Dodgers into first place.  What, you thought I could talk about NL Rookies without mentioning Sands?

Am I missing anybody (besides Sands)?  There’s a high chance that I am, so tell me who I left out with a comment!

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Review and Preview Number 10

Posted June 1, 2011 by Matthew Faris
Categories: Uncategorized

Yesterday, the Dodgers continued their winning ways by beating the Colorado Rockies by a score of 8-2.  Ted Lilly had one of his best games of the season, pitching 7 innings and allowing only 2 earned runs, and striking out 8 while walking none.  He only threw 111 pitches, so he probably could have gone out for one more inning, so no complaints there.  Rubby De La Rosa pitched the other 2 innings, giving up a duoble to Troy Tulowitzki (which is really nothing to feel bad about) but otherwise dominating the Rockies that he faced.  He struck out two and walked none, so the Dodgers pitching as a whole had a strong day.  Similar to Monday’s game, the Rockies scored once on a Home Run by Ty Wiggington, and the other run came from Chris Nelson scoring on a sacrifice fly.

The Dodgers continued to play like a team with an actual offense, or at least hates to see their team name so low in the Run Differential standings.  If you include this game, the Dodgers have scored 8, then 7, then 8 runs in their past three games.  Over that same time period, they’ve given up only 3 runs in the past three games.  The Dodgers used Matt Kemp and the Long Ball as their primary means of scoring (as usual).  Kemp hit a 2 run Homer in the 1st inning, a shot to right field, and then came up with the bases loaded in the 3rd and hit a single to drive in 2 runs.  The odd thing about that play is that the Rockies elected to walk Andre Ethier with first base open and face Matt Kemp.  I say this is odd because it makes literally no sense to do this.  Kemp has been by far the best hitter on the Dodgers this year.  The only major batting category that is higher for Ethier than for Kemp is Batting Average.  I guess maybe Jim Tracy thought it would be better to have his embattled Right-Handed pitcher throw to Kemp rather than Ethier, because Ethier is amazing against Righties, but that’s still a stretch of an argument.  I mean, that’s as if someone walked Kevin Youkilis to get to Adrian Gonzalez.  Sure, maybe the platoon advantage helps some, but you’re still walking a good hitter to get to a great hitter.  Jim Tracy gets some flak around the Baseball blogosphere, usually sarcastically, but that was a pretty indefensible move.  Plus, it’s not like Mortensen had made Kemp look foolish in Kemp’s last At Bat.  Indeed, the opposite took place, as Kemp had his homer.

The other contributor was a name that hasn’t been heard in far too long.  Casey “The Beard” Blake.  In the 7th Inning, Casey Blake hit a 3-run home run to left field to put the game squarely out of reach for the Rockies.  Production from Blake and Furcal is going to be key for the Dodger as they move forward, so to see them both Homer in the past couple of games is very encouraging.  In fact, between them and Loney, who is finally heating up, the Dodgers might have enough hitters in the infield to survive if/when Kemp begins to cool off again.  Plus, if Sands can get back to looking like he has the Majors figured out, then Kemp and Ethier can be given some rest.

I’m trying to keep a level head and not get too optimistic, but a three game winning streak in which you’ve won by scores of 8, 6 and 6 can do that to you as a fan.  The starting pitching has been on the top of their game, and the offense is actually contributing.  Callups like Rubby, Scott Elbert, and Javy Guerra have given the bullpen the reliable arms they need to make it game to game.  This appears to be a team that is finally coming together.  And, they’ll be getting some more important role players back from the DL over the next couple of weeks, with guys such as Vicente Padilla, Marcus Thames, and Juan Uribe looking to be coming back soon.  I’m particularly excited about Uribe, because the starting infield of Loney, Uribe, Furcal, and Blake will actually get to play more than two games together.  Plus, Juan Castro will hopefully be pushed off the team, and Aaron Miles (who did double in Jerry Sands and could be a lot worse) will be the super utility infielder he should be.

As for tonights game, the Dodgers will send Jon Garland to the mound looking to sweep the Rockies, who will send embattled former-ace, Ubaldo Jimenez.  Ubaldo’s issues so far this year have been tied to him just being more hittable, as well as walking far too many batters to have consistent success.  I think Ubaldo has a decent day, going 6 innings and giving up 4 runs, while Garland pitches 7 and gives up 3.  Whoever comes in after Ubaldo will give up a run or too as well.  Hopefully the Dodgers will be able to get their first sweep of the season tonight!

Which Dodgers Should be Considered All-Stars?

Posted May 31, 2011 by Matthew Faris
Categories: Uncategorized

Last year, the Dodgers sent Andre Ethier and Jonathon Broxton to the All-Star Game in Anaheim.  Hong-Chih Kuo and Rafael Furcal also made it to the game as manager picks or as replacements.  During the game, Ethier had a hit in 2 Plate Apperances (and, humorously enough, he played Center Field), while Furcal had a walk in one.  Kuo nearly lost the game for the NL Team by giving up a run in the 5th inning, and Broxton actually closed out the game, thanks to a nice play by CenterRight Fielder Marlon Byrd.  All in all, the Dodgers represented themselves fairly well in the game, and considering that the All-Star Game is really for the fans, the game was entertaining and served it’s purpose.  And I’m just going to say the the starting NL Outfield of Ryan Braun in LF, Ethier in CF, and Corey Hart in RF may have been the worse defensive Outfield ever assembled.

So what about this year?  Do any Dodgers deserve to go to the All-Star Game?  While choosing things like All-Stars tends to be very subjective and allows for way too much Home-Team bias, I’m going to do it anyway.  Mostly because it lets me look at the Dodgers who are having the best seasons so far.

Let’s start with the two easiest choices: Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp.  The two slugging Outfielders are actually 4th and 5th on the ballot, behind Braun, Matt Holliday, and Lance Berkman.  Kemp should definitely be ahead of Ethier, as he’s just plain been a better hitter, and he’s done all his damage from Center Field, which is a more defensive position.  Ethier, while he is a good hitter, has lower power numbers, and struggles to hit lefties, not to mention he plays below-average defense in RF (Kemp plays about average defense in CF).  Kemp has more Home Runs, RBI’s, and Stolen Bases, while Ethier has the higher average.  To me, Ethier is just riding the popularity that he gained with his 30 game hitting streak, and that’s why he has more votes than Kemp.  Regardless, I think they’ll both get in, which is all that really matters to me, as both are more than deserving.

As for the Dodger pitching, the obvious choice here is Clayton Kershaw.  Simply put, he’s been really good.  He’s number 8 in the NL in terms of ERA, which is a sparkling 2.62, and unlike most of the pitchers above him, he has an equally low FIP of 2.62.  FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is a stat that looks at a pitcher purely from the stuff that he controls, which are Strikeouts, Walks, and Home Runs.  It then offers a recalculated ERA based on how the well the pitcher is doing.  It shows how a pitcher “would” be pitching if he had the same defense as everyone else.  x-FIP is a stat that does the same thing, and then puts every pitcher in the same “average” ballpark, which can reveal pitchers who have a tough time in hitters parks, or pitchers who have been enjoying a huge pitchers park.  Kershaw is again amongst the top 6 in terms of x-FIP.  While there have been a lot of good pitchers this year, I fully believe Kershaw should be amongst the pitchers on the All-Star Ballot.  He’s been really good, and he’s only getting better, as his last start against Florida showed.

This is where it starts to get interesting though.  The Dodgers have a host of “good” starting pitchers, but no ace besides Kershaw.  Guys like Kuroda and Billingsley aren’t bad, and any team would love to have ’em, but ERA’s in the Mid-3’s don’t make you an All-Star.  The Bullpen has been completely turned over since the start of the year, with Matt Guerrier being the only survivor.  He’s certainly reliable and nice to have, and he’s already pitched in 26 games, but he’s not exactly elite.  He, like Bills and Kuroda, is merely “good”.  Reliability is nice, but you’re not going to be very effective against elite hitters if you’re depending on inducing ground balls.  If Kenley Jansen were still healthy, and hadn’t had his two collapses, you could make a case for him.  But no pitcher is going to be an All-Star if they have a 6.43 ERA (Note, ERA isn’t the best stat to use, but it’s especially mis-leading with relievers, because one bad appearance keeps your ERA high for the rest of the year).  Besides, even though he strikes out ludicrous amounts of batters, he also walks way too many as well.  I can just imagine the NL fans everywhere holding their breath every time he let’s a pitch go, realizing that neither they nor even Kenley himself know where that ball is going.  Lastly, if Billy Beane was making this team, a case could be made for Jamey Carroll, as he has the 3rd highest OBP among NL Shortstops, but fans (including me) don’t want to see Jamey Carroll as an NL All-Star, they’d rather see Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, and Stephen Drew.  Hanley and Tulo aren’t even having good years so far, but they’re fan favorites.

So this year, the only Dodgers worth mentioning as possible All-Stars, are Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Clayton Kershaw.  And I’m not gonna lie, a starting Outfield of Kemp, Braun, and Holliday would be pretty tough to go against.  And later on, you can bring in Berkman and Ethier to smash righty pitching.  That’d be pretty nice for NL Manager Bruce Bochy.  And if you need an inning or two, Kershaw is right there to be used.  Bochy can certainly attest to Kershaw’s dominance, considering Kershaw has a sub-2 ERA against the Giants.

Who do you think should be the All-Stars from your team?  Tell me who and why with a comment!

 

Review and Preview Number 9

Posted May 31, 2011 by Matthew Faris
Categories: Uncategorized

Well it’s been quite a while since my last post, so I’ll start today off with a Review and Preview.  I’m not going to talk about the Marlins series, so just know that the Dodgers took two out of 3 behind strong pitching by Clayton Kershaw and Jon Garland, and timely hitting by James Loney, Andre Ethier, and Dioner Navarro in the first win, and basically everybody but Jerry Sands in the second win.

Yesterday, the Dodgers kicked off their 3 game series with the Rockies by winning 7-1.  Chad Billingsley pitched some of the toughest 7 innings of 1 run ball I’ve ever seen, as he gave up 11 hits and walked 2 (although he also struck out 8, including the entire side in the 2nd inning with 2 runners on base).  He was throwing fairly well, and definitely pitching to contact.  During the 7 innings he pitched, the leadoff man got aboard in all but the first inning (and in the first inning, it took this amazing throw and tag by Matt Kemp and Rod Barajas to prevent Carlos Gonzalez from scoring,) but he was able to induce lots of ground balls (three double plays) and he still missed his fair share of bats.  I’d say this is a fairly typical game from Bills though.  He induces a good amount of ground balls, and strikes out the rest of the opposing batters.  He didn’t even have his best stuff yesterday either, as he was behind in the count fairly often (and that’s also why he gave up tons of hits).  But Groundballs and strike outs tend to be how Billingsley goes through his game.  It looked to me that he would be unlucky with the leadoff hitters, because besides Todd Helton, he tended to give up weak bloopers/liners that just got past the defense, or hard hit groundballs.  As soon as men got on base though, he induced easy outs with strike outs and double plays.  Overall, a good game from Bills.

On a more positive note though, the Dodgers were able to score at least 7 runs for the second game in a row.  Andre Ethier and James Loney drove in 3 runs (two off a Home Run, which he hit pretty hard into Right Field), and Kemp had 1 RBI for good measure.  Furcal continued his hot-streak/return to above-average-ness by getting 2 hits, and Jamey Carroll ended his skid with a weak infield single and a triple to the corner in Right Field.  Kemp also had a stolen base, which was his 14th of the season.  Kemp is on pace to have a 30-30 season, which would be amazing, and if he has a high enough average, could maybe put him into the MVP conversation.  It was a strong day for the Dodgers hitters though, as they fouled off pitch after pitch after pitch after pitch from Rockies starter Jason Hammel, who Vin Scully said was only able to get 3 swings and misses all game.  It was a below-average start for an innings-eater type pitcher, and those types of starts tend to happen with guys like Hammel.

The Dodgers bullpen was also solid in a no-pressure environment.  Scott Elbert was shaky, but Matt Guerrier came in and bailed him out, and Javy Guerra pitched a scoreless 9th inning to end the game.  This is a very minor complaint, but I would have liked to see Mattingly let Ramon Troncoso pitch the 8th and 9th innings, because he’s basically taken Lance Cormier’s “mop-up-man” role, and pitchers like that should be pitching with 6 run leads.  But it doesn’t really matter that much, as Kershaw threw a Complete Game the day before, so most of the bullpen should be well rested for today’s game.  I’m sure Guerra, Guerrier and Elbert can all pitch again too.

And in tonights game, the Dodgers will send Ted Lilly to pitch against Clayton Mortensen.  Mortensen has a nice 2.83 ERA, but, as usual, peripheral statistics such as K/BB ratio (barely over 1, which is bad), and BABiP (.196, which is very very low) suggest he’s been very lucky, and will fall back to earth.  Given that the Rockies have been in a funk for quite some time now, I think Mortenson will be the next to be affected by it.  I’ll say he goes only 4 innings, and gives up 5 runs, while Lilly goes 6 innings and gives up 3 runs.  I’m not actually all that confident in Ted Lilly (To be fair, I never am unless he’s pitching against a truly punch-less offense), but I think he’ll pitch just well enough to win.  Or maybe not, but I think the Dodgers will hit Mortensen and the Rockies Bullpen hard enough that it won’t matter too much.  I think the Dodgers will win tonight, and look to sweep tomorrow against Ubaldo Jimenez.

On Mike Brown and the NBA Finals

Posted May 27, 2011 by Matthew Faris
Categories: Uncategorized

Before I start talking about Basketball, I want to make one quick note: Mike Axisa, one of the fine writers at MLB Trade Rumors featured one of my posts on his weekly blog recap (link here).  You guys and gals should be ashamed if you call yourselves Baseball fans and don’t read MLB Trade Rumors.  The writing is superb, and it’s easy to find the topics that interest you most.

But I’ll start off with my thoughts on the Mike Brown hiring.  For the most part, my friends who are all Lakers fans are worried about the signing.  It’s an attitude of “I’m really concerned about Mike Brown and his ability to coach this team to the championship.  I think he could do well, but he probably won’t.”  It’s sort of how I felt about Don Mattingly when I heard that he was going to be the manager.  I suppose the proper phrase would be “cautiously optimistic”.  I’m not a fan of the Lakers, so I’d like to think I can look at this a bit more objectively.  First off, I honestly think almost anybody could coach this team to the playoffs.  Particularly in Basketball where a .500 record can land you the 8 seed.  The Lakers still have Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum (when healthy), and Ron Artest, and Lamar Odom off the bench.  That’s still a very solid foundation.  Yes, they’re missing a good Point Guard, but they’ve been missing that for years now, and they still won two rings.  The Miami Heat have shown us that a good Point Guard isn’t a necessity to make it to the NBA Finals.

The biggest problem for Mike Brown is something Bill Simmons alludes to in his most recent column, where he talked about his interview with former coach Phil Jackson.  That issue is that Mike Brown is going to have to deal with a group of veterans that, amongst others, Kobe Bryant plays for.  An older, slowly declining Kobe Bryant.  Kobe will be one of many players who are the last to realize that they are declining.  Most recently, we saw Jorge Posada with all of his drama.  As Kobe gets worse and worse, but continues to be the focus of his team and continues to try to be the number 1 option, the Lakers are going to decline with him, and Mike Brown has been put in the unenviable position of having to tell Kobe that he’s not good enough anymore to be that guy.  That will be the biggest challenge for Brown as the Head Coach: Dealing with Kobe.  Sure, it’s nice that he’s a defensive-minded coach, and I assume that the Lakers will play good defense, and a little defense can go a long way.  But this team will live and die with Kobe, seeing the relationship between him and Mike Brown play out will be fascinating.

As for the NBA Finals, my thoughts are this: The Miami Heat are definitely favored right now.  They have their Big 3, and they just knocked out Boston and Chicago to get to the Finals, so their path was as difficult as possible.  They also play very strong defense, as evidenced by how they locked down MVP Derrick Rose during the Eastern Conference Finals, and prevented the Bulls from scoring over 85 points in a 4 quarter game in the last 4 games of the series (The Bulls scored over 100 points in the first game, which they won, and 93 points in Game 4, but that was in overtime).  But while it’s easy to stop Derrick Rose by manning LeBron James and Chris Bosh on him, trying that against Dirk Nowitzki will not give them as good of results.  This is because Dirk is way bigger than Rose, and he’s also a much better jump-shooter.  Plus, Dallas is a great 3-point scoring team, so Dirk can easily pass the ball away to one of their 3-point shooters, and make the Heat pay for attempting to collapse too much on him.

I think the games are going to come down to how well the Mavericks Offense can score against the Miami Defense, because I think the Heat won’t have much of a problem putting up a lot of points against the Mavs.  The last couple of games against the Thunder showed us that Dallas is vulnerable to quick guards penetrating and driving to the rim.  The Heat happen to have this guy named Dwayne Wade, you may have heard of him, and he can do that exact thing very well.  LeBron and Chris Bosh are also very strong in that department, although they are bigger and slower.  I think if the Mavs surrendered 90+ points every game to the Thunder (which they did in all but one game), they’ll do the same thing against the Heat.  So they’re going to have to be able to outscore the Heat against their strong defense.

The bottom line to me is this: Dirk Nowitzki can take over and a win a game on his own, that’s how well he’s playing right now.  It didn’t matter if it was against the Lakers, or the Thunder, and I don’t think it’ll matter against the Heat either.  If he gets in the zone, and starts making ridiculous jump-shot after ridiculous jump-shot, then I think Dallas has a very good chance to win this series.  Both teams have shown the ability to out-grit their opponent, and I think this will be a tough, gritty series on both ends.  I’ll say that the Heat win in 7 games, and they will all be very close.  Given that that’s my prediction, we’ll probably be able to look back in a couple weeks and laugh at how horribly wrong my pick was.

What’s your prediction for the NBA Finals?  Tell me what you think with a comment!

 

Does Buster Posey’s Injury Really Warrant a Rule Change?

Posted May 26, 2011 by Matthew Faris
Categories: Uncategorized

Before you read any further, you should click here, because you have to understand exactly what happened before you can read my take on it/form your own opinion.

Let’s break down that play really fast.  In the top of the 12th, with runners on the corners and 1 out, Emilio Bonifacio hit a fly ball to shallow right center.  Giants Right Fielder Nate Schierholtz caught the ball, but Scott Cousins of the Marlins decided to test the strong arm of Schierholtz, and took off for home plate after tagging up.  Schierholtz delivered an absolute bullet to home plate, and Posey faced the outfield as he attempted to pick up the ball on one-hop as it bounced into his glove.  At the same time as he was about to catch it, Cousins crashed shoulder-first into Posey at full speed, giving Posey no chance at all to make the play as the ball rolled past home plate.  Posey never got the ball, so Cousins was safe at home.  Only problem for the Giants (besides the whole, losing the lead thing) was that Posey couldn’t get up.  Replays showed his left leg and ankle twisting in all kinds of directions, and Posey had to commando crawl just to get to home plate.  He was lifted by two trainers off the field, and the game ended when the Marlins won.

But now the question arises.  Should that hit by Cousins have been illegal?  Let me preface what I’m about to say by pointing out that this is not my Anti-Giants bias speaking.  I’m all for player safety, and I’d rather the game be played cleanly and fairly than see the Giants lose.  In my opinion though, that was a clean hit.  Posey was doing his job by blocking home plate, and Cousins’ only choice was to go through Posey to get home.  If Posey wasn’t hurt, then this would have simply been one of those “Wow, that was a big hit.  Posey is really tough for taking the hit and the loss with his chin up!” type deals.  But because Posey is hurt, MLB might consider a rule change.  I feel like part of this is because Posey is a popular player amongst casual fans.  Had his backup, Eli Whiteside, been taken out and injured, I think only hardcore Giants fans would be making a huge deal out of this.  But Posey is a very popular player.  He was the Rookie of the Year, and to most people, the MVP on a Giants team that won the World Series.  He’s clearly their best hitter, and he’s also a fine catcher.  Overall, that makes for a pretty popular player, and not only are Giants fans sad to see him go down, but also fans of Baseball in general (Yes, even me.  I’m a big Dodgers fan, but an even bigger Baseball fan.  If the Giants are going to tank, I want it to be because they weren’t good enough to win, not because they weren’t healthy enough.)

I do realize that this is the kind of injury that can end any playoff hopes for the Giants.  And I do realize that that’s unfortunate.  But this incident should result in minor tweaks to the rules, and that’s all.  The thing here is that Cousins from the start looks like he wants to truck Buster Posey like a football player would.  Posey, while he was blocking the plate, wasn’t directly in front of Cousins, but Cousins launched himself into Posey to guarantee that he was safe.  There aren’t too many people saying that Cousins is now a dirty player because of this hit, because hits like this are standard procedure in MLB.  I think the issue here is that Posey was pretty-much defenseless.  The NFL, obviously much  more of a contact sport than Baseball, has begun fining players who lead with their heads and aim for other player’s heads, because of possible concussions that can be a result.  They also penalize players who tackle or knock down “defenseless” players, usually Wide Receivers who are looking at the ball and can’t see the guy coming to knock them down at a high speed.

So the bottom line, is that MLB should go out of their way to stop players from attacking other defenseless players.  I don’t personally think that collisions at home plate should be completely banned, but they should only be legal if A. The Catcher has the ball and is blocking home plate, with his eyes focused on the runner, and B. If the runner has no other way to get to home plate.  Failure to comply with these rules will result in the runner being out, as well as said player being fined and/or suspended.  I’m all for collisions, but we should be attempting to make them as safe as possible.  Which sounds weird, but I just don’t think collisions themselves are the problem, I think it’s players taking advantage of the rules in place.

What are your thoughts on collisions at home plate?  Tell me with a comment below!

My Thoughts on the Mavericks Win

Posted May 26, 2011 by Matthew Faris
Categories: Uncategorized

Yesterday, the Dallas Mavericks punched their tickets to the NBA Finals with a win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.  The Mavericks, again, came back from a sizable deficit in the final minutes of the game to secure the win.  Dirk wasn’t his usual amazing self.  He was just really good, which was all the Mavericks needed, as players like J.J. Barea and Shawn Marion stepped up.  Jason Terry and Tyson Chandler contributed the last significant portions of the points, and the Mavericks were able to squeeze out another win.

It should be noted that James Harden and Russell Westbrook both played really good games.  Kevin Durant was good, but the Thunder needed him to step up more if they were going to win this game.  Westbrook silenced his critics with an amazing 31 point, 8 Rebound, 5 Assist game, while Harden had 23 points and 5 Rebounds off the bench.  The entire third quarter and the first half of the 4th quarter saw them driving through the Dallas defense and hitting layups and tough jump-shots.

As I said, Dirk wasn’t amazing, but he did his job, contributing 26 points and 9 rebounds.  When Dallas went with their “small” lineup in the 4th quarter, Dirk had to shift from Forward to Center, but for the most part, he just made tough shots and forced OKC to drape their better defenders, such as Nick Collison on him.  That’s not to say he didn’t have a large impact, or that he wasn’t the leader of this team, as he sank a beautiful 3-pointer that put Dallas ahead with 1:14 left.  With 13 seconds left, he hit a couple free throws to seal the win for the Mavericks.  Dallas and Dirk especially seemed to have a reputation after the 2006 Finals as being anti-clutch (In those finals, the Mavs won the first 2, and they lost the next 4 in a row, 4 games that saw the Heat take 50+ more Free Throws than the Mavs) so this must feel even better for him, because he’s finally got an opportunity to win his ring.

What’s interesting to me is something Bill Simmons pointed out in one of his columns, where he talked about the Mav’s run as the last breath of what he calls the “Post-Jordan Era”.  Meaning, after Jordan, we as fans got to watch great players such as Kobe, Shaq, Dirk, Tim Duncan, Paul Pierce, Steve Nash, etc.  Now, with Boston’s Big 3 and now the Thunder having been eliminated from the playoffs, Dirk is the last “Post-Jordan Era” Star left standing, and he gets to go up against either LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, or Derrick Rose, who represent the next era of great players.  A group that represents those three, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, etc.  So that’ll be an interesting storyline that the longtime viewers of Basketball will get to pick up on when the Finals starts, whether Dirk and the Mavs get to face LeBron an D-Wade, or Derrick Rose.

One thing is for sure though, either the Bulls or the Heat are going to have it tough playing against the Mavs.  They’ve shown that they can out-grit and out-effort any team they play against (which was one of the common themes in the Bulls-Heat series I’ve been talking about.)  The Mavs had to take down a Portland team that almost forced Dirk to be defined as a career choker, and while sweeping the Lakers doesn’t look to be a huge deal in hindsight, playing the Thunder certainly was.  It was decided by most analysts that the Thunder had the best chance to unseat the Lakers in the post-season.  The Spurs were actually supposed to be unlucky that they had to face the Thunder in Round 2, rather than the Mavs.  But not only were Dirk and the Mavs able to beat the Thunder, they were able to come from behind twice in a row against them.  The Mavs played out of their minds in this series to win it, and while a 4-1 series win looks rather convincing, you have to remember that Dirk scored 48 points in Game 1 and was nearly perfect, and that the Mavs came back from behind in Games 4 and 5.

The bottom line for me, is that this is the big German’s chance to win himself a ring.  I hope he does, as it’s obvious that both Derrick Rose and LeBron James will have plenty more opportunities than Dirk to get their first rings.  And in addition to Dirk, I’d like to see guys like Jason Kidd get one too.  Lastly, as Yahoo! pointed out in their recap, Dallas sports fans are really lucky.  They got to host the Super Bowl, the World Series, and now the NBA Finals.