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

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 :(
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • Baltimore is now completely eliminated. Detroit elimination number for the wild card is down to 1. Probably the next team to fall will be Kansas City (2 for the division, 4 for the wild card). Toronto has been eliminated from its division title, but its number for the wild card is 9.

    These are all AL teams. In the NL, the most likely team to be eliminated first is Miami, which has an elimination number of 4 for the division, but 13 for the wild card. Pittsburgh's elimination number is 19 for both the division and the wild card.
  • As expected, Kansas City has joined Detroit and Baltimore among the ranks of the completely eliminated.

    It may be a tight race to see which team goes next: Toronto's elimination number is 7; Miami is 9 and Seattle is 10. All three should make it out of August okay, but it is also likely that all 3 will then be eliminated during the first week of September.
  • Toronto has now been eliminated. That is 4 teams out, all in the AL.
  • With a last ten of 8-2 and 14 games off the last wild card spot Pittsburgh could make it to the play off, but I think they need to win all but everything! My money is staying in my pocket.
  • At a Cards game tonight. My kid was playing the National Anthem (with his band of course, she adds hastily).
  • When I first saw that I thought you were playing cards. Heh. Never mind.
  • mousethief wrote: »
    When I first saw that I thought you were playing cards. Heh. Never mind.

    Well, who would be surprised if The Donald were to decree that "The Stars and Stripes" be played before every hand of Texas Hold'em?
  • Miami became the first NL team eliminated. Over in the AL, Seattle, is hanging by a thread and should be eliminated either today or tomorrow.

    Apparently no team has clinched a spot yet, although LA Dodgers are close (magic number of 5). Everybody else is in the double digits.

    I understand that there was a particularly well-played National Anthem at the Cards game last night...
  • At a Cards game tonight. My kid was playing the National Anthem (with his band of course, she adds hastily).
    That's wonderful, Lamb. I wish there were more of this style of National Anthem at the BB games. I'm very tired of a solo, unaccompanied singer doing it. The crowd doesn't sing along- how could they, with all the frills & furbelows thrown in by the inventive singers?

    What a fine opportunity it would be for local school bands and/or choruses to sing The Anthem and encourage the spectators to join in.
    The 7th inning stretch patriotic song has the same annoying performance style, and could be a chance for band or singing group to do it better.
  • A quirky stat from last night's Phillies-Reds game: Cincinnati pitcher Michael Lorenzen became the first player since Babe Ruth in 1921 to (a) be the winning pitcher, (b) hit a home run and (c) play in the outfield, all in the same game. First player in 98 years to pull off that particular combo. In baseball, it is almost always an honor to be on the same list with Babe Ruth.

    And, possibly as a reward, he started today's game in center field. (And Cincinnati won both games, putting a dent in the Phillies' playoff hopes.)

    Oh, BTW, as expected Seattle did get eliminated last night. That makes the total: 5 AL teams out, 1 NL team.



  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host, Circus Host
    That must be quite a feat, if the last time someone did it was nearly 100 years ago!
  • I think tha Cardinals always get in the local school bands and choirs--there were two, maybe three that night doing different songs. I thought that was normal for baseball? I know football is different...
  • I think tha Cardinals always get in the local school bands and choirs--there were two, maybe three that night doing different songs. I thought that was normal for baseball? I know football is different...

    Thre are many more baseball games in a season- 81 home games. Lots of opportunities and at some grounds, lots of empty seats.
  • Just to update the playoff picture: In the AL, La Angels and Chicago White Sox have been completely eliminated. That is 7 AL teams (out of 15) that will not be in the playoffs. Texas Rangers will probably joint the eliminated list by the end of this weekend.

    Things are going slower in the NL. The Colorado Rockies have been eliminated, bringing the total up to 2. Pittsburgh will probably be the next to fall. Their elimination number is 3...with luck, they might make it through the weekend, but almost certainly they will be gone by this time next week.

    La Dodgers are the first team to clinch their division. The Yankees will probably be next...but, again, that likely won't be until next week some time.
  • Hedgehog wrote: »
    Just to update the playoff picture: In the AL, La Angels and Chicago White Sox have been completely eliminated. That is 7 AL teams (out of 15) that will not be in the playoffs. Texas Rangers will probably joint the eliminated list by the end of this weekend.

    Things are going slower in the NL. The Colorado Rockies have been eliminated, bringing the total up to 2. Pittsburgh will probably be the next to fall. Their elimination number is 3...with luck, they might make it through the weekend, but almost certainly they will be gone by this time next week.

    La Dodgers are the first team to clinch their division. The Yankees will probably be next...but, again, that likely won't be until next week some time.

    I look at the Pirates E number of three then look up the chart and realise we are 11.5 games behind the Mets and the Phillies, and ten behind Arizona. The chances of those or anyone else for that matter blowing to the extent that is required is infinitesimally small. If the regulations permit, we may as well get some redshirts in for some game time.
  • Things are moving faster than I expected. Texas Rangers have been eliminated and Boston will probably fall by the end of this week. That will leave 6 AL teams for 5 playoff spots--shockingly, nobody has clinched a playoff spot yet. I expect that to change dramatically in the next couple of days.

    In the NL, the Pirates fell, as did San Diego and Cincinnati. And San Francisco will likely fall by the end of the week. Atlanta has clinched at least a playoff spot and probably will clinch the NL East by the end of the week.
  • The long, slow death is over. There have been more in the dugouts than in the stands recently.
  • We are entering the last week of the regular season and the playoff picture is getting fairly clear.

    In the AL, the Yankees and Astros have clinched their respective divisions. The remaining three playoff spots have four teams in contention: the Twins, the A's, the Rays & the Indians. Most likely the Twins and A's will secure a spot. The last spot will be between the Rays & Indians--and that might actually come down to the last game of the regular season.

    It is even clearer in the NL: The Dodgers, the Braves and the Cardinals are all in the playoffs. The last two playoff spots most likely will go to the Nationals and the Brewers. There are a number of teams (Cubs, Mets, Diamondbacks and Phillies) who are mathematically alive, but let us be serious: The Nats & Brewers have at least a 4 game lead on those teams and the Brewers have only 6 games to play and the Nats 8 games. Unless they have a complete meltdown, they both should secure a spot.

    Mind you, collapses of teams can and do happen. Look at the Cubs, who have lost the last 6 games. The Cardinals completed a four-game sweep of the Cubs in Chicago. How rare is that? The last time the Cardinals pulled off that trick was in May of 1921. In addition, the Cubs lost each game by only one run. How rare is that? That is only the second time in MLB history for a team to be swept in a four-game series at home with each loss being a one-run defeat. The previous time it happened was in June of 1919 (Cleveland sweeping the Red Sox in Boston). That also makes a string of five straight one-run losses for the Cubs. How rare is that? The last time the Cubs experienced five straight one-run losses was in July of 1915.
  • Regular season over, on to the playoffs, which start tomorrow.

    Wild Card Games

    Tuesday: Brewers (who went 89-73) at Nationals (93-69). The winner gets to play La Dodgers (106-56).
    Wednesday: Rays (96-66) at A's (97-65). The winner gets to play the Houston Astros (107-55)

    Divisional Series: Best of 5

    Thursday: Game 1: NL:
    Brewers/Nats at Dodgers
    Cardinals (91-71) at Braves (97-65)

    Friday: Game 1: AL:
    Rays/A's at Astros
    Twins (101-61) at Yankees (103-59)

  • Four teams with more than 100 wins! Is that unusual, or are there also some unusually awful teams?
  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    More than unusual - it's the first time it's ever happened. Baseball has little parity right now and does have some truly awful teams.

    I'm hoping so much that someone in the AL will get lucky and take care of the Astros so that if the Dodgers make it to the WS again they don't have to face the Astros.
  • Thanks Ruth, it did look exceptional. Anything over a hundred is pretty good. OTOH, my Pirates failed to reach .450 :(

    I have the idea that a few (rich) teams have cornered the market in good starting pitchers. After all, if you have as few as three really good starters and you don't overwork them, you will get a lot of teams out cheaply, even if the gun pitcher isn't the pitcher of record. Or have I over simplified this game?
  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    Spending money helps, obviously, but of the top ten big spenders -- in order: Red Sox, Cubs, Yankees, Dodgers, Giants, Cardinals, Astros, Nationals, Angels, Mets -- half didn't make the playoffs this year.

    The absolute top starting pitchers have indeed been cornered by a few teams: the Astros have Verlander, Cole, and Grienke, the Dodgers have Ryu, Buehler, and Kershaw, and the Nationals have Scherzer and Strasburg. So that's 8 of the top 10 on three teams. (It will be very fun to see the Dodgers-Nationals series starting tomorrow, with great pitching up against great pitching; the Dodgers only edged out the Nats in regular season play, 4-3, so this could go either way.) The Red Sox spent the most money this year, but they didn't have great pitching, and neither did the Cubs. The Mets have a fantastic starter in DeGrom, but that's just one guy. The Yankees have Tanaka, Happ, and Paxton, who are all very good but not at the absolute top - their relievers are scarier than their starters, especially since German is gone (and good riddance).

    Payrolls here
    Pitching stats here (sortable columns! so fun!)
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