November 2011

Re-view of the Preview: Detroit Tigers

First of all, here is the intial entry.

Predicted Record: 84-89 wins

Actual Record: 95-67

For an AL Central prediction, this was surprisingly… not terrible. I *was* off by 6 to 11 wins, but I didn’t account for the surprises in this group. I would take any of my AL West predictions over this one, but it was the best prediction save Kansas City and Cleveland because they reverted to their self of  awfulness.  I attribute most of the 6 games I was off by to Justin Velander and Miguel Cabrera playing above what they had shown to this point last year. I actually did put in this provision. Usually what happens, is that Cabrera and Verlander have years where they’re on. Maybe I’m especially focused on them, but for whatever reason, this has been true of these two. Verlander had not put together 3 “good” years together yet. So I thought he would regress. Kill me on that if you wish. I really don’t know what else to attribute me being off by so much to, except for the late season pick-up of Doug Fister that addressed the rotation depth problem I detailed in the original entry.

 

Overall, I got the gist of this team but failed to accurately predict how they would do.

Re-view of the Preview: Chicago White Sox

Here, is the link to the original entry.

Predicted record: 85-90 wins

Actual record: 79-83

Here’s to another completely wrong prediction. I really have no explanation for why this happened besdies the underacheiving of Adam Dunn among others. They didn’t lose anyone THAT important to the any part of their team. I know Dunn not perfoming was indeed a big part of their underacheiving, but one man does not 15-20 make, even if he seemed horrible enough.

I conceed to the fact that I got this prediction completely wrong, whateve the reason behind this mal-prediction may be. I think I may have just been a bit too optimistic. I guess I added the value of Pierzinski and Konerko to the team even though they had already been on the team the year before. I think I made so big of a deal in the fact that Ken Williams kept both of them that I lost the fact that they weren’t going to add wins to the total, but maintain the total at where it was. After all, they did only really add two impact players, one of which turned a spot in the lineup into a black hole of nothingness where hits against lefties go to die.

Collected Baseball knick-knacks

Over the past year and a half, I have gone to a whole mess of baseball games. While my primary focuses at these games have been to collect baseballs and watch the games themselves, I have acquired a lot of items. This entry is to show exactly how much I have acquired throughout not just the past year and a half, but my 17 year old lifetime of going to baseball games. Before I get started on listing the things, I want to clarify that I didn’t get all of these things at the games, but rather, these were all things that I acquired because I go/went to games and am interested in baseball. Really, this is just miscellaneous baseball stuff that I have come into ownership of through one way shape or form.

Although I have come across many unique items, my baseball collection is the one that has brought me to most of the games I have gone to. Therefore,

it is worthy of the first (even though it is of lower quality than the other) picture.

Over my “career” going to games and catching baseballs, I have snagged 222. This photo does not show all of them, only the ones I have kept. The two are different because I have given away a substantial amount of the 222 to different kids and others at the games that I have gone to.

Next are the foul balls that I have gotten during the game itself:

(isn’t the quality a lot better on that picture?)

The balls are as follows:

1. A foul ball hit by Chuck Knoblauch when I was about five or six. I was sitting in the third deck of the Old Yankee Stadium.

2. A Luis Hernandez ball, there was an article written about it.

3. A Nate McLouth foul ball and my first caught on the fly. Here is a link to my blog entry on that game.

4. An Angel Pagan foul ball. Here is the link to the article written about it, and here is the link to my blog entry on that game.

To highlight a particularly interesting ball in my collection, here is a ball I suspect is from the 1950s or 60s. This is because it was found in my grandfather’s things and he lived close to San Francisco (which didn’t get an MLB team until then), and because I found out, through e-mailing a few credible people, that it was signed by commissioner Giles who had his name on the ball from 1951-1969.

Next are my baseballs that were not snagged at a baseball game, but bought or given to me as a gift to me. I would go through them and explain each one, but some are self-explanatory and most are not worth explaining.

I do have other baseballs that fit into this category, but they were more beat up balls that I have made their way into my collection from baseball teams I have been a part of throughout the years, and I didn’t want to make it seem like those were the majority of my non-MLB collection, because if you click on that picture and zoom in, there are some pretty cool baseballs. For example, the bottom one is a Babe Ruth ball i.e. if you flip it horizontally and then vertically, you will get a bio of Babe Ruth.

Next in my completely arbitrary order of importance are framed baseball things. Among those, the first picture is of the item that is pictured in my gravatar profile picture (that would be the picture that shows up next to me when I comment on another blog within the realm of WordPress):

The story behind this is that, my dad was looking for a Christmas present for me in 2010 and either found this picture or remembered of it. The original actually started with “I’m a hawk”, but my dad inserted the “ball” part to individualize it for me.

Next, I have a portrait of David Cone given to me by a friend who knew how much I loved baseball and knew I would take care of it.

But wait, there’s more! The backside is signed by a few people, two of which I can somewhat recognize:

Finally, the last framed item is a map of all major league stadiums that I got from my dad that same Christmas (Yes, he was very generous to me.).

If you can see, there are White pins placed in certain cities. This means that I have visited a stadium in that city. The Black boxes on either side of the map specify which stadium I have visited when it comes to that franchise that city and league i.e. I have visited both the Metrodome and Target Field and so both of those boxes should be Blacked- out (even if I still haven’t marked that I have visited Target Field). The Yellow flag shows the next stadium I plan to visit, the Green represents my favorite stadium, and the Blue my last stadium visited.

Next are the non-framed baseball things. What do I mean by this? For example, this Joe Mauer head would be a non-framed baseball thing.

I got this while at the Minnesota State Fair. I was in town to go to the Metrodome for three games before the Twins moved into Target Field and my dad and I decided to go because a) he was from Minnesota and b) the State Fair is the second largest in the country behind Texas (everything’s bigger in Texas). They have an unofficial theme of anything your heart desires being available on a stick. I don’t know if this is a play on that, but I got it at the Qwest stand as they were handing them out for free.

The next item, I guess, is this random Fenway Park sign.

I honestly have no idea how I got this. It was probably another scenario where a friend of my parents knew I was really into baseball and gave me this thing that they had. Other than that I can’t explain it. I was raised a Yankee fan and still don’t care that much for the Red Sox. I tried actually rooting for them for a season, but it just felt wrong. I no longer have the same love for the Yankees and I still respect the Red Sox (chicken murdering and all), but by no stretch of the imagination do I root for them to succeed. Nevertheless, this banner type thing does allow me to do a few photographic gags.

Next in the, seriously I’m making this up as I go along, order of items is my baseball card “collection”. I really only bought cards for half a season. Maybe it’s because I’m of the computer generation where a player’s stats can be found within three clicks, but they really didn’t do anything for me. So, the majority of my collection comes from people who were collectors in their younger years giving me their baseball cards.

I think the highest stack (upper left) is about  75 cards, and you can kind of tell how tall the other ones are in relation to that one. For the record, I DO have more cards, but they are somewhere in a box or underneath my bed and I have no desire to go looking for them as I have enough things to do. I would say my entire baseball card collection is in the 500 range.

Just to be clear, these are no longer non-framed baseball things. I am now just going in the random order that I took the pictures of the things in. The next item in said order is the Gatorade towel Josh Thole gave me at Nationals Park on 7/30/11.

It is actually a pretty good story as to how that happened. so click the link I provided for you on the 7/30/11 and scroll about 80% of the way down the page.

As a ballhawk, one of the tricks of the trade is to own a hat and shirt of both teams. Here is my collection of baseball related hats.

The next item is a result of my strategy. I actually don’t know how many other ballhawks do this, but I do it, probably as a result of my paranoia in always thinking that players will recognize me. Anyway, I bring a neutral hat and shirt to most games. Here are all of the neutral hats that I wore in 2011:

Finally, here are all my MLB shirts:

For whatever reason, all the pictures of the shirts came out blurry. I would take a few more shots, but it is REALLY annoying to take all of the shirts out of my drawers and align them for a few pictures before putting them all back.

And what is being a Yankee fan without having two mugs for the coffee I never drink?

The one on the left I think I got around the same age I got the Chuck Knoblauch foul ball. The one on the right, is a pretty recent headline and this is one of those where I have no recollection of how I got it.

Sticking with the cup theme, here is a cup I bought with my dad the first time I went to the baseball Hall of Fame (I have gone 3-4 times since and could probably go another 20 if it weren’t a 6 hour drive).

Note the indentation in the bottom of the glass.

Next is (partially)my collection of programs and pocket schedules. I write partially because I have about ten others, but can’t find them. I hope they’re not lost because there were a few good ones. Like a Phillies program when they won the World Series and a Giants program with Tim Lincecum on the cover from the April after he won his first Cy Young, entitled “So Good, So Young.”

Next are the tickets individual to the first baseball trip I ever took. It was: drive down to Philadelphia for two games against the Dodgers, drive back up right after the second game ended, fly to Detroit that same morning, watch the Tigers take on the Indians, take a bus to Pittsburgh, and watch the Brewers take on the Pirates for three games.

All of the series were sweeps and the highlights were, Pedro Feliciano hit a 3 run walk-off HR in I think double digit innings, Cliff Lee got his 19th win of the year to go along with only 2 losses at that point. At that point he was a one-year wonder and the Ace to replace CC Sabathia who had been traded to the Brewers and had been doing amazing as he was 5-0 at this point with the Brewers. Speaking of Sabathia, my next highlight came when he threw what should have been a no-hitter, but the Pittsburgh scorer gave one of the “Laroche”s a hit on a dribbler that Sabathia dropped, citing that it was an above average play for the man who had barehanded a line drive to him the previous inning. I may eventually get around to blogging about these games, but it probably won’t be until next year as I am and predict to be very busy until then.

Next are the variety of rosters I have printed out to know who the players are on the teams in the game that I happened to watch that day.

Notice that some have pictures. Usually this only happens on trips because when I am at home I am more pressed for time, and yes, I did print out a roster for the umpires (third from the top and left).

If you’re thinking that all the games I go to must produce a lot of tickets, here is an emphatic “YES!”

I apologize for the shoddy lasso job, although I am mildly skilled in the art of Photoshop, I can’t afford it for my home computer.

Ha, you thought those were all my tickets.

Those were only my electronic tickets. Pictured above are my “stubs”, I guess you could call them. These aren’t necessarily  only tickets to baseball games, but they are pertaining to baseball. For example, I took two excursions while I was in Atlanta. Can you find the tickets to these two separate places’ tickets?

Next is my (partial) collection of signed items. Partial because I had 17 signed balls at the beginning of the year, but gave away about 15 of them.

Andy Pettitte

Luke Gregorson and Mike Adams (as you may be able to read from the little tabs that I have with every signed ball)

Rollie Fingers. Yes, his mustache does look just a little bit funnier in person.

Tony Cruz a.k.a. the back up catcher for the Cardinals.

Ryota Igarashi

Jonny Venters

Doug Slaten and Emilio Bonifacio

Drew Storen

Now we begin the cycle of random baseball things with two Mets bobbleheads.

Pretty self-explanatory, right?

Starting in 2006, I vote for the All-Star Game via the paper ballots every stadium has out. I also have kept a few from the last few years:

This next one I received for my birthday and didn’t think it quite fit in with the MLB T-Shirt picture. So I decided to make it its own picture.

Again, here are two framed cards that I didn’t think quite fit in the “framed things” category nor the “baseball cards” picture.

The first is explained by the fact that my two favorite players growing up were Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire. Sad, I know. The second was given to me in conjunction with the Babe Ruth ball I elaborated on in the “non-MLB baseballs” picture.

Here, are two pitching figurines I have no idea how they came into my possession. What I do know is that they are supposed to be Don Drysdale and Roger Clemens, respectively.

Here is another figurine of the (Old?) Yankee Stadium with a baseball for perspective.

Here are the Ice Cream Helmets I used to collect with my dad when we went to stadiums.

I may continue this in the future, but probably won’t remember to do so for every stadium.

Next are the gloves I used in 2011 and 2010, in order of usage.

Now we get into the items I have received as part of promotions by teams. Starting with the Nationals’ schedule for 2012.

Here we have a fan type thing the Yankees gave away. The Yankees don’t have many promotions and they usually aren’t that good, because they are usually companies just trying to advertise. There are exceptions, but for the most part, the Yankees don’t need promotions to get people to come to the ballpark.

Next are some sunglasses that the Mets gave out early in the year. I usually brought them to games as a further affirmation of my paranoia that players would recognize me (another disguise).

The next picture is a lunchbox that I got on that same trip to Philadelphia in 2008.

Did I mention that Manny had just gotten to the Dodgers recently before that series and the Phillies fans were already booing him. When my dad asked a fan in the upper deck, “Why are you booing him? He just got here. He couldn’t’ve done anything to you ALREADY, right?” the Phillie fan responded, “Oh, we boo everyone.”

Next are two promotional items I got when I was in Pittsburgh on that same trip. The first is a wall-clock. The second is a commemorative plate.

Next are my three non-Met baseball bobble heads. They should be pretty easy to identify considering the names are on the bases.

Here, is a link to a picture of the Jose Reyes cape I got for the Mets’ promotion, Fiesta Latina. This comes because the pictures I took of mine are blurry beyond belief.

Here are two shirts (front and back) that I got by going to Nats games at the end of the year. The first is a promotional “Strasburg Returns” shirt and the second is a “PNC Virtual Wallet T-shirt Toss” shirt.

Finally, my last baseball items that I have photographic proof of are… my baseball books.

For the record, I *do* have Moneyball, but I usually recommend it to people and said recommendation usually ends in me lending that book to said people.

If you got to this point in the entry, I commend you. I hope that you at least got a chuckle off of how much a person can be obsessed with baseball enough to write an entry this long.

Re-view of the Preview: Minnesota Twins

I’d rather forget this entry , but here is the original.

Predicted Record Range: 91-96 wins

Actual Record: 63- 99

So I was only off by about 30 wins. I really have no words to describe how bad this prediction truly was or how the Twins got to this point. All I can do is break down where they downgraded.

Bullpen: They definitely downgraded in the bullpen as most of their bullpen help from 2010 were mid-year acquisitions. In addition, their established set-up men like Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier also left and their injured relievers like Joe Nathan and Pat Neshek underachieved according to what their past said they should be doing. I think that this bullpen has to be completely re-done.

Rotation: It pretty much stayed the same,but would have downgraded if Francisco Liriano did not improve like he did. The main thing with the rotation this year is that they were injured too much. Rick Anderson has his fingerprints on the organization in such a way that throwing strikes will get you to the show and any talent you have past that is just icing on the cake, but I don’t think that having your best pitchers get injured is the best way to win because of the inconsistency it causes. I think the rotation is best run with the laissez faire  approach because this farm system turns out consistent pitchers like there’s no tomorrow.

Outfield: It was just two years ago when playing MLB 2k9 that I remarked to my dad that the Twins had too many Outfielders who would be starters one other teams. This year, (no disrespect to him) they had Ben Revere among others playing in the Outfield. Jason Kubel certainly has dropped off. He used to be a player you could count on for 30 HR and 80+ RBIs. The same coudl be said for Michael Cuddyer except when he did it this year he was an exceptional player on the Twins instead of being one of the background players he usually is for putting up his usual numbers. This needs be completely re-done with the losses of Delmon Young, Michael Cuddyer, and Carlos Gomez (yes I know he left a few years ago).

Infield: As far as defense goes, the Twins will never have major issues because they take 1,000 ground balls a day, but as far as the offensive production goes, they have fallen off. I think we can attribute this to Justin Morneau not coming back to full strength. Like Starting Pitchers, the Twins produce solid middle infielders because of the aforementioned 1,000 ground balls a game. I think they are pretty well set with Danny Valencia, but that 1st base situation must be stabilized by one way or another.

 

Overall, I completely failed with this prediction. The only worse thing I could have said is: ” they will win the World Series.” I am still trying to forget this season in general when it comes to twins baseball because as you might remember, my consecutive games streak came to a close at Target Field in August.

Re-view of the Preview: Seattle Mariners

First of all, here is the initial entry.

My Predicted record: 61-65 wins

Actual Record: 67-95

 

I pretty much got this team right. I gave them a C- and although they did improve in their record, it was not as a result of net addition during the offseason. Rather it was, as I said, the younger players like Dustin Ackley improving and the team developing as a whole. The offense is still very much challenged, but it isn’t a disaster of historic proportions like last year.  Besides this, I can’t really say anything about the Mariners because I didn’t touch upon that many topics in the first entry. I really stuck with certain topics and elaborated upon them more than I usually did with those entries. That said, it now appears as though the Mariners are committed to Felix Hernandez and it *seems* like they have minimal intentions of trading him as of 10:05 November, 07, 2011. However, his salary is still set to rise over the next few years and the Mariners may decide that it is not worth it to keep him around when the team around him is still on the rise.

I think I pretty much pegged the AL West. Next up is the AL Central, where I think I may have been a LITTLE off on my predictions >cough, cough, Twins< The next entry will not be up until at least Thursday, though. This is because

I am going on a retreat with my school and won’t have access to the internet until I get back Wednesday night.

Re-view of the preview: Texas Rangers

First, here is the initial entry. In this particular entry, the comments below it are a big part of the entry itself.

My predicted record: 86-91 wins

Actual record: 96-66

This might seem like a bad prediction on my part, but I would like to point out that it wasn’t as off as you might think. Had the team that started the year played the whole season, I think they would have ended up in the low 90s. Who added those extra five or so wins you say? Well one of their question marks going into the season was their bullpen which they revamped through deadline trades. For example, they picked up: Koji Uehara, Mike Gonzalez, Mike Adams, and some other reliever whose name escapes me.

 

I was also right in my prediction that the Rangers would have to out-score opponents to win. Although they had either four or five 14 game winners, no one behind CJ Wilson’s ERA would indicate that they would have as many wins with any other team. The second best starters ERA behind Wilson’s 2.96 was a 3.94. So even though this shows their starters stayed away from injury and persevered in the Texas heat, no one behind CJ Wilson was a bona fide #2 starter, like I predicted in my  preview entry.

 

I would like to explain the grading scale. Even though I gave the Rangers a C, that doesn’t mean I predicted they would fall off. A C meant a team would be just as good as they were the previous year. Anything above a C would mean that they would be a better team, and anything below a C meant that I thought they would be a worse team. The degree by which the team would be either better or worse would depend on how far away the grade was from a C. So I predicted the Rangers had tread water in the offseason. Personally, I don’t think the team that started the year would have made it to the World Series again, but with their additions they made it to the same place as last year.

 

I think I got this team pretty well when you adjust for the mid-season trades. What would you say?

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