From the Bleachers: Baseball 2019

Goodness, this snuck up on me this year, but technically the season kicks off tomorrow morning.

Yes, "morning," because the first game of the season is Seattle Mariners v. Oakland Athletics, playing in Tokyo. It will be at 5:35am ET. The Athletics will be the "home" team. As near as I can determine, they will only play 2 games (Wednesday and Thursday). The rest of the league will then start the following Thursday (March 28). Because MLB thinks all of that makes sense.

So, anyway, start of a new season! My Phillies made most of the big headlines during the off season, signing Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura, J.T. Realmuto and some guy named Bryce Harper. That promises to make the NL East a tight division, with defending division champ Atlanta, the Nationals and the improving Mets all making a case to be the top team along with the Phils. Sucks to be the Marlins this year.

How do you think your teams will do?
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Comments

  • sionisaissionisais Shipmate
    I have this dream in which, as Cutch has moved back to Pennsylvania, he will see the Light, take a different turn out of his driveway and move back to Pittsburgh. Oh well, one can hope.

    I guess we'll have a winning season (86-76?) but miss out on a Wild Card again.
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    The last time I checked the predictions on Baseball Prospectus (around March 3), the Pirates were projected to go 80-82. But hopefully they will beat expectations. I was pleased that the Phils picked up Cutch.
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    Also of note, as mentioned above Seattle & Oakland started the season in Tokyo. Seattle won both games. But what will be remembered more is that, after the second game, Ichiro Suzuki retired. The man is a baseball legend, a future Hall of Famer, and it was so appropriate for him to finish up while playing in Japan, where he started. Very classy of Seattle to make it happen.
  • sionisaissionisais Shipmate
    And in London on 29-30 June , the Red Sox and the Yankees will play two games at the London Stadium (the main venue for the 2012 Olympics).

    Not my all-time favourite teams, although some grudging respect is due. I wonder if Pittsburgh will play over here before I snuff it? Maybe I shall have to take a break over the Pond. Shopping for Mrs Sioni (watch out quilting suppliers!), some culture for both of us and some sport for yours truly.
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    Woo hoo! Cutch just hit a leadoff homer for the Phillies in the season opener!
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    My annual "Last" watch (last team to lose; last team to win) is already over. The Phillies are the only undefeated team (at 3-0) while their opponent, the Atlanta Braves, are the only winless team at 0-3.

    Honorable mention: The Seattle Mariners also started 3-0, but they started before most other teams and racked up their first lost back on March 29.
  • sionisaissionisais Shipmate
    Hedgehog wrote: »
    Woo hoo! Cutch just hit a leadoff homer for the Phillies in the season opener!

    I really should have bet the farm on that.
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    Today (April 15) is the annual Jackie Robinson Day in major league baseball. It commemorates Robinson's breaking the color barrier in baseball.

    In case you are interested, here is a statistical summary of Robinson's first game. It is not as dramatic as Hollywood would want it to be (0-3, including grounding into a double play) but he did reach on an error and then came around to score. He was putting down a sacrifice bunt and the error came on the throw to first. In my imagination, Jackie's speed caused the throw to be hurried, which is why it went wild.
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    Another historical note of interest: May 4, 2019 marks the 150th anniversary of the first professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings.
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    Bill Buckner has died, age 69. I decided to put this here rather than on the Death Pool game because I know nobody had him on their list (not even me).

    And because I wanted to talk about the grave injustice done to him. The first memory anybody has of him is letting a ground ball go through his legs in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, and allegedly causing the Boston Red Sox to continue their "curse" of not winning the World Series (a curse not broken until 2004). And people blamed Buckner. From which I can only conclude that they didn't watch the game. Here is what happened:

    Game 6 of the World Series, Boston versus NY Mets. A best-of-seven series, and Boston was ahead 3 games to 2. In Game 6, Boston went ahead 2-0 by the second inning. But Boston starter Roger Clemens allowed the Mets to tie the game in the bottom of the 5th. Actually, that is not entirely fair to Clemens, as one of the runs was unearned due to an error by right fielder Dwight Evans.

    Boston took the lead again in the 7th, 3-2. The Mets tied the game in the bottom of the 8th, off of relief pitcher Calvin Schiraldi.

    Nobody scored in the 9th, so the score remained tied 3-3 and the game went to extra innings.

    In the top of the 10th, Boston scored twice and was feeling pretty good about their chances of winning (despite having twice blown leads already this game).

    That brings us to the bottom of the 10th. Schiraldi was sent out for his third inning of relief. Now, back in those days, a relief pitcher did tend to stay in longer than they do these days, but even so it was odd that Boston left him in that long. It looked like a smart move at first, as Schiraldi got the first two Mets batters to fly out. Gary Carter then hit a single. And then Kevin Mitchell hit a single. And then Ray Knight hit a single, driving in Carter and moving Mitchell to third. So now the score is 5-4, with the tying run on third. Having given up three straight singles, Schiraldi was finally taken out and Bob Stanley came on as the relief pitcher. He promptly throws a wild pitch, allowing Mitchell to score the tying run and moving Knight to second base.

    So Boston has blown its two-run lead. You will notice that Bill Buckner's name has not been mentioned at all in this game summary! He played no role whatsoever in the blowing of the lead.

    And then Bob Stanley, having already done a wild pitch, works a full count to Mookie Wilson, who then hits a ground ball to first base, which went through the legs of Buckner, allowing Knight to score the winning run.

    So, yeah, Buckner's error allowed the winning run to score, but even if he had made the play and made the out, the game would have gone on because the score was tied. And who knows how it would have turned out--but the Mets were the home team, and home teams tend to have the advantage in extra inning games.

    (And there is some question whether Buckner would have been able to get Wilson at first even if he fielded the ball cleanly. It would have depended on Stanley covering first in time, and Wilson was a fast runner.)

    Oh, and let's not overlook the other small point. The Mets winning the game just meant that the series was tied 3-3. There was another game played the next day--and Boston lost that, too, despite leading 3-0 at one point in the game.

    So putting all the blame on Buckner always has been absolutely ridiculous. The Red Sox lost the Series as a team effort, with a lot of blame to go around. But Red Sox fans did blame him, so much so that he needed to move his family because of jackasses making threats.

    RIP, Bill Buckner. You've earned some peace.
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host, Circus Host
    Poor chap - even though I didn't really understand any of your post ( :blush: ) I can see that Mr. Buckner wasn't entirely to blame. May he rest in peace.
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    So the MLB Commissioner has been concerned with "pace of play." And he also wants to spread the game. So what does he do: he arranges a game in London and then sends two teams guaranteed to play the longest possible game. Yankees-Red Sox games always run longer than any other baseball game.

    The first London game is going on now. Three hours into the game and they are about halfway through (4 and a half innings). :disappointed:
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    They picked up the pace. It ended at 4 hours, 42 minutes.
  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    All I can say is I'm glad no one on my team has to fly to London and back in the middle of the season.

    I went back and read your piece on Bill Buckner, Hedgehog. I have very fond memories of Bill Buckner from when he was with the Dodgers in the 70s.

    To add to my disjointed post: I've been rethinking my stand on the playoff structure. For a long time I've thought there were too many layers to it as it makes pennant races almost meaningless; winning the pennant doesn't feel like any kind of culmination any more, and the season is already too long. But I've gradually been coming around, and now I think they should just shorten the regular season and keep the playoffs, in part simply because so many people enjoy the way the structure works, and also because the wild card races are so close this year. Right now the NL Central is the only division race that's really close.
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host, Circus Host
    Hedgehog wrote: »
    They picked up the pace. It ended at 4 hours, 42 minutes.
    I've been to one baseball match in my life (at the Shea Stadium in New York. It may not have lasted 4 hours and 42 minutes, but it felt like it.

    Sorry about that.
  • sionisaissionisais Shipmate
    4:42 does seem a bit turgid, but wasn't there an absurdly long game in the last World Series? I think the sun had risen here in the UK!

    RIP Bill Buckner. We should remember that errors are marked on the effects of one play. Previous and subsequent snafus are another matter.

    And as Ruth says, the NLC is close. My Pirates are fourth but only 5 games behind and Ciincinnati 1.5 behind. The NL Wild Card race could be decided late and I like that, because it makes contests meaningful for as long as possible.
  • I think I win the endurance trophy- the 16 inning marathon the other night.(and morning). Bless my Balto Orioles. I did doze a few times, but awoke each time to find they were still playing! And, still WINNING. And now, they've beaten the "Angels" (sic) 2 in a row. WHO ARE these guys? I love them all.
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host, Circus Host
    That's devotion above and beyond the call of duty!

    <notworthy>
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    @Pearl B4 Swine Was that 16-inning affair the one that finished with an outfielder pitching for the save? That was impressive--he was throwing it so slow that the batters got impatient waiting for the ball to get there!
  • sionisaissionisais Shipmate
    Hedgehog wrote: »
    @Pearl B4 Swine Was that 16-inning affair the one that finished with an outfielder pitching for the save? That was impressive--he was throwing it so slow that the batters got impatient waiting for the ball to get there!

    Do many batters find truly slow pitches hard to pick? In cricket some spin bowlers keep the ball above the batters eye line so the even though it (eventually) pitches in front of the batter, it is very deceptive. A slow pitch that just dips into the strike zone must be very awkward!
  • Yes. That was Stevie Wilkerson, normally an outfielder, who set down 3 in a row in the 16th. He was cool as can be, and had the Angels dazed and confused. It was marvelous. That was the Thursday/Friday game, by the way-lasted 6 hours & 17 minutes. :-)
  • bassobasso Shipmate
    Haven't checked in here in a while, but the comments about smallish junk-ballers (the baseball equivalent of a spin bowler, I guess) reminds of Stu Miller, who famously had his pitching motion interrupted by a gust of wind at the unlamented Candlestick Park. It's gone into history as "that time Miller got blown off the mound".
  • sionisaissionisais Shipmate
    basso wrote: »
    Haven't checked in here in a while, but the comments about smallish junk-ballers (the baseball equivalent of a spin bowler, I guess) reminds of Stu Miller, who famously had his pitching motion interrupted by a gust of wind at the unlamented Candlestick Park. It's gone into history as "that time Miller got blown off the mound".

    I wouldn't liken spin bowlers to baseball's "junk ballers". After all, regular pitchers all deliver at a speed in excess of that used by spin bowlers who normally deliver at between 45 and 60mph in men's cricket. I have however seen a supposed slow left-arm bowler, who normally delivered at between 50 and 55 mph deliver a genuine bouncer at a batsman's throat! OK it was a surprise and he was a tall, powerful man, notorious for grumpiness, but it must have been travelling at about 80 mph, from about four leisurely paces. The umpires checked it, and agreed it hadn't been thrown.
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    August 19, and Baltimore has been mathematically eliminated from winning the AL East. It is technically still alive in the wild card chase...but its elimination number there is only 5. Barring a miracle, they will be completely eliminated before the end of August.

    Detroit also is about to fall. Elimination number for the division is 3, with 6 for the wild card. Like Baltimore, I expect that Detroit will not make it out of August.
  • sionisaissionisais Shipmate
    Meanwhile, it is the highlight of the season, namely the Little League World Series. This time they are littler than ever, as no one over twelve is playing. There aren't so many strikes. although there are still some and home runs are rare, but there is plenty of baseball played to n encouragingly high standard and with plenty of variation. The Mexico team look handy with a tall, skilled pitcher and little sparky catcher.

    You may have noticed that I haven't mentioned the Pirates much recently. They are now in the stumblings, rather than the standings. No October games for Pittsburgh :(
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    Yes, the Pirates are struggling. They aren't the worse team in the NL, but that's not through lack of effort. I suspect the marlins will be the first NL team to be officially eliminated from the playoffs, but the Pirates, on current form, might well be second.

    BTW, as expected Detroit is now mathematically eliminated from winning its division. Baltimore and Detroit now both have an elimination number of 4 for the wild card.

  • sionisaissionisais Shipmate
    Hedgehog wrote: »
    Yes, the Pirates are struggling. They aren't the worse team in the NL, but that's not through lack of effort. I suspect the marlins will be the first NL team to be officially eliminated from the playoffs, but the Pirates, on current form, might well be second.

    BTW, as expected Detroit is now mathematically eliminated from winning its division. Baltimore and Detroit now both have an elimination number of 4 for the wild card.

    A few years ago the Pirates were probably fourth in the NL over the full 162 games, but that was when the NLC led the other divisions by some distance, and while Pittsburgh had good respectable starting rotation we haven't had a star pitcher approaching, say, Adam Wainwright, let alone Kershaw or MadBum. Gerrit Cole has been the best in my time and he could be very good, but I have seen him have some shockers. Bowing out in the Wild Card game became our speciality.
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