Tonight the Florida Marlins’ braintrust decided it would give away versions of those horns you can find incessantly “playing” throughout the World Cup.
Enter the vuvuzela.
I had to write this post now to illustrate just how annoying these tiny toys are tonight. The game began with the Marlins fans in full vuvuzela throat and it has only gotten worse as the game has gone on.
While the Rays are leading 4-2 right now, my joy is tempered by the unending onslaught of vuvuzela “music.”
There certainly is a reason why players in the World Cup and fans who are watching the WC have complained about these noisemakers. In fact, ABC/ESPN has employed filters during its broadcast of the Cup to reduce the noise emitted from the crowd during each match.
But to have these things make the trek overseas to our beloved game of baseball is just killin’ me!
It is as if I am watching a horror movie about a killer swarm of bees that decend on southern Florida.
Sure, they are fun for the kiddos. But c’mon.
I just saw a shot of the umpires employing ear plugs just to try to block out the locust invasion mimickry.
And I know that people have complained vociferously that the Rays cowbell has its annoying qualities (I love it, by the way). But the bell only rings at certain times.
The vuvuzela is forever.
Oh, well, if this fad only comes around from time to time at only certain stadiums, it certanly can be tolerated.
Hell, we endured the tenure of one Pat Burrell for a season or so.
(In all seriousness, it is kind of neat to hear the horns blowing in complement to “The Addamms Family,” “Let’s Go Marlins,” “Green Acres,” and other various stadium tunes–I guess I’m just grumpy tonight…)
What is it with Florida teams and perfect games?
For the twentieth time in the history of this amazing game, a perfect game has been thrown.
For the third time in two seasons, a perfect game has been thrown against a team from the great state of Florida.
Roy Halladay put together what is tantamount to absolute perfection tonight when he took down the Florida Marlins in 27-up-27-down fashion. I know that my friend at Phillies Outside must still be celebrating, as well he should.
But why does this keep happening to us? And by “us” I mean the baseball denizens of Florida?
The Rays went through it against Mark Buehrle and the White Sox last season before enduring the pain of another perfect at the hands of the Oakland A’s and Dallas Braden. And now the Florida Marlins know what we “northerners” felt each time.
Of course, when the Rays took the field each time there was no real thought that a perfect game could be thrown at them, all due respect to Buehrle and Braden.
Halladay, though, is one of those rare pitchers who has no-hit stuff almost every night he toes the mound. A perfect game isn’t as earth shattering in that case.
But that takes NOTHING away from the amazing feat of the Doc.
Thank goodness he’s on my fantasy team.
And hopefully the teams from Florida have paid their dues with regards to perfect games…
Pretty much every blog in the universe remotely related to baseball has been making its predictions for what will happen in the majors in 2010. Some have done it division by division, and some have done it in one big shot.
I’ll be subscribing to a combination of both as I go league by league.
I will not be including records because, well, I’m just not that smart.
I see 2010 as a season that will have more than just a few surprises. Sure, teams such as the Phillies and Yankees will be right there until the end, but there are other squads that I think possess much intrigue because of their offseason moves and the emergence of their younger players.
More than likely this is an effort in futility, but it sure is fun.
Today I will break down the National League. Tomorrow the American League. Tuesday I’ll put out my playoff predictions.
Phillies Nobody’s better in the NL. They would be better with Cliff Lee AND Roy Halladay, but they are pretty darn strong as they stand.
Braves I like their mix of youth and experience. Their pitching will be a strength for them, especially if Tim Hudson can turn in a strong season.
Marlins How can you pick against them? Nobody knows how they do it, but they win every year. Ricky Nolasco is back and Josh Johnson is solid.
Mets How can you pick FOR them? The addition of Jason Bay would seem to bode well for the offense, but the recent injury to Daniel Murphy won’t help. Neither will the fact that they seem to have given up on their pitching.
Nationals I don’t want to pile on. They are not a good team. But their offseason moves and slow dedication to a youth movement points them in the right direction.
Cardinals Makes me sick to say it, but they are darn good. Their offense will more than make up for any pitching deficiencies. They have the potential for closer problems this year, though.
Cubs I love this team, but it seems no matter how much talent they get on the squad they do not win. Sure, they won the division for three straight years, but that was about it. Last year was an abomination. Marlon Byrd, and a healthy Aramis Ramirez, will really help the offense.
Reds They could be the surprise of the division in 2010. I like their staff (and the addition of Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, even though he is in the minors now) and their bats. Might sound crazy, but I think these guys could push for a playoff spot this year.
Astros Sure Lance Berkman is hurt, but this team has some talent. They are getting older at some positions (Carlos Lee, Berkman, Oswalt) and injuries could derail their season.
Brewers Their pitching is horrendous. Yovani Gallardo can’t stay healthy and one of their starters, Jeff Suppan, is already out. Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun are not enough.
Pirates Andrew McCutcheon will be fun for the entire league to watch and will more than likely represent the Bucs in the All-Star Game. That’s about it.
Giants As fans of the Tampa Bay Rays know, pitching wins. And there are few staffs (provided Barry Zito is actually good this year) as strong as the Giants’. “Kung Fu Panda” Pablo Sandoval will really shine this year.
Dodgers Why won’t they win the division? Health. I just think that they are going to have some big injuries this year and that Manny will do all he can to distract the team from winning baseball games. I like their young starting pitching, but it won’t gel enough this year.
Rockies Coors Field seems like a great place to watch a baseball game. Its offensive stats seem to have calmed down a bit. The rise of Ubaldo Jimenez and his ability to induce ground balls will help this team have a solid season.
Padres I love their youth. Everth Cabrera, Mat Latos, Chase Headley. I like ’em. This will be a big surprise if they don’t finish in the basement of the division again. I think they have some surprises in them.
Diamondbacks It will be a surprise if these guys DO finish in the basement. I like Dan Haren and their emerging catcher, Miguel Montero (he’s on my fantasy team!). But I don’t see a lot to get excited about in the desert.
Well, that was fun. No doubt, some of my picks might be debatable.
And, if they are debatable, feel free to tear me apart.
Let’s play some baseball!
Ah, well. The Rays did not make any moves at the trade deadline. Despite two glaring needs, the team was unable to do that trade that might have helped to shore up some weaknesses for the final playoff push.
I don’t know that moves HAD to be made. This team stood pat last year and was able to utilize the huge talent it had to make it to October. This year’s iteration of the Rays is not much different, and should be able to ride its talent–both here in the majors and in the minors–to a division crown or wildcard berth.
It ain’t gonna be easy, though.
Even though I can’t look at any moves the Rays made, I wanted to take a look at the multitude of moves made yesterday and grade how each move should help each team.
Deal: Red Sox trade for Victor Martinez
Analysis: Jason Varitek has not been what the Sox have needed this year. Sure, he’s led the team as an old grizzled veteran should, but little more than that. Add in the fact that Mike Lowell’s hip is not long for this season and you have a need at catcher and first base. Well, the Red Sox filled those needs with the addition of Martinez. One of the more coveted players available at the deadline, the versatile Martinez might just be the piece that complete the playoff puzzle for the Sox
Deal: White Sox trade lots of young arms for Jake Peavy
Analysis: Initially this looks like a great deal. The White Sox were able to rekindle interest in moving Peavy late Friday (interest that waned early in the season) and finally consummated the deal. Why Peavy would want to pitch in hitter-friendly US Cellular Field in a new league is beyond me, but he had his reasons to waive his no trade clause. The Sox got a pitcher who is not ready to pitch now and might not be ready for several more weeks. The Padres got a plethora of arms that should help them long term.
Deal: Twins acquire Orlando Cabrera
Analysis: I don’t like Cabrera. Let’s get that out of the way. I don’t like the way he tried to make some lame point in the playoffs last year against the Rays. I am glad Grant Balfour struck him out, though. Why do I say all this pointless blather? Because this is a perfect move for the Twins. And if I’m saying that with the way I feel, then you know it is good. The Twinkies needed a strong shortstop, and they got it. He will hit 2nd in the lineup ahead of Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer and will help that offense really get going. And his defense will be welcome in the Metrodome–especially if you saw the bumbling of Brendon Harris in last night’s game.
Deal: Tigers get Jarrod Washburn
Analysis: Washburn was not going to be able to help the Mariners make the playoffs this year. And he was going to ask for more money than the M’s would be willing to pay him after the end of this season. For them, this is a great move. For the Tigers, this move makes sense. They will now have a solid 1-3 in the rotation. Plus, the move enabled them to keep pace with the moves the Sox and Twins made within the division. But can Washburn keep up his torrid pitching? I don’t think so.
Deal: Braves and Red Sox exchange 1B: Adam Laroche and Casey Kotchman
Analysis: The Braves have fallen out of love with the guy they acquired for Mark Teixeira not that long ago. Why? They want more home runs. Kotchman has just 6 this year. But the guy is hitting .283 and plays a decent 1B. Laroche, on the other hand, struggles to hit .250 and only has 13 dingers this year. Each guy has only around 40 RBIs. This is kind of a non-deal–much like the Jeff Francoeur for Ryan Church deal earlier. What are the Braves thinking?
Grade: Braves–C Red Sox–B
Deal: Marlins trade for the Nats’ Nick Johnson
Analysis: Everybody seems to love Nick Johnson. I don’t get it. He’s a marginal hitter, and ok fielder, and he might actually be slower than our own Pat Burrell. What’s the deal? When the Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez was told of the trade, he reportedly pumped his fist and yelled “YES!” Why? This might help the Marlins shore up their infield by moving Jorge Cantu to 3B and allowing Johnson to man 1B, but that’s about it. But, the Fish did not give up much for him so…
Deal: Rockies get Joe Beimel from the Nats
Analysis: Make fun of the Pirates all you want, at least it seems they are getting a direction in mind for the franchise. The Nationals don’t have a clue. They dumped a solid lefty bullpen guy in Beimel to get two youngsters–one of which, I read, is recovering from surgery. Ugh. This deal should help the Rox, but not that much.
Deal: Dodgers send minor leaguer 3B Josh Bell to O’s for closer George Sherrill
Analysis: I’m looking at both sides of the coin on this one. The Dodgers acquire a solid closer who has been more and more consistent as the season has gone on. Thus, right now the Dodgers have one of the more potent 8th- and 9th-inning guys out there. The Orioles got a guy I hadn’t heard much about, but about whom I read is something special at 3B. Melvin Mora won’t be long in an O’s uni, so getting Bell, who might get a callup sometime next year, plays out perfectly for Baltimore. This team is going to be pretty exciting come next season.
Grade: D’s–B+ O’s–B
As with any trade that went down in the last few days, we will have to wait and see how things go. Of course, the Cardinals have gotten immediate returns on their move as Matt Holliday has TORN IT UP since his arrival in St. Louis.
Lots of the deals above included young minor leaguers. Their value is not entirely quanitfiable just yet, but it may be sooner rather than later.
Either way, Friday was lots of fun.
Even if the Rays did do nothing.
Tonight our favorite lefty (all respect to D. Price, but that title still belongs to Kaz) took the bump to show that he was all healed up.
Recall that Scott Kazmir left the team in late May (22nd to be exact) with a strained right quad. After a few fairly successful rehab stints he returned to great fanfare to take part in the latest edition of the Citrus Series.
It went well.
What little of it there was to see.
One cannot overlook the strong command that Kaz showed tonight. He threw 92 pitches, 61 of them for strikes. He struck out 5 while walking only 1 and giving up a mere 4 hits. Not bad for a guy who hadn’t pitched in the month of June. While he did not receive a decision in the game (the Boys in Blue pulled out a patented walk-off sacfly job), he played a huge part in getting the Rays six games over .500.
But was tonight truly successful?
Part of the reason for concern with Kazmir this season (and last season) was his high pitch count which often led to early exits from games. Despite his newfound health, he still chucked 92 pitches and exited after only five innings.
Perhaps that was just knocking the rust off after being on the shelf for so long.
Rust or no, Kazmir did tonight what he has done the last two years. Give us five solid innings, then fade into the background.
No doubt the Rays, or any team for that matter, need its starters to take the game into the 6th and 7th innings. Especially when that starter’s stuff is as electric as Kaz’s was tonight. But getting to the 6th or 7th inning has been a struggle of monumental proportions for Kazmir, and it is starting to become more and more worrisome.
In nine starts this season, Kaz has gotten into the 6th or 7th innings only four times. FOUR TIMES!
Looking back over his last three years (including this year) Kazmir has been trending in the wrong direction as far as his ability to take games deep.
In 2007 Kazmir went into the 6th or 7th inning 24/34 starts (71% of the time).
In 2008 he went that deep 14/24 starts (52% of the time).
This year? He’s gone that far in a game 4/10 starts (40% of the time).
If you watched the game tonight–or any of his starts the last two years, actually–you see what the great Joe Magrane geniusly pointed out: Scotty doesn’t miss many bats. Foul ball after foul ball plague Kaz’s starts, and while he does get his strike outs, they come at a cost.
Tonight the Rays used four relievers…in a win…with each of the four pitching a full inning. Thankfully, “Big Game” James gave the team 6 2/3 innings (96 pitches, by the way) last night. While the Rays used four relievers in that game as well, it was in 1/3- or 2/3-inning stints.
The bullpen has to great affinity for the longhorn lefty. They know they will get plenty of work in a Scotty-started ballgame. The recently summoned Chad Bradford got into a game right away tonight.
Granted, Kazmir has never been a complete game guy. You have to go back to June 6, 2008 to find the last game he went 8 innings and July 3, 2006 to find his last complete game. But isn’t that the biggest thing preventing him from becoming a true ace?
It is obvious the fans love him. This blog is a Kaz fan. But counting on him to give 5 innings on a good night and 6 innings on an exceptional night is no way for a #2 starter to be acting.
For the Rays to do some damage and reach October again they need their version of Kid K to start missing some bats and start pushing his starts into the latter parts of ballgames. The Rays all-time leader in strikeouts and wins has a no-ceiling level of talent. He is undoubtedly one of the better lefties out there and has provided this team with plenty of success.
But it sure would be neat to watch the final pitch of the ballgame come from the hand of the guy who is still the Bay’s favorite lefty.
Indeed, the Kaz is back.
Photo credit to TBO.com.