In Baseball on April 22, 2013 at 6:08 pm
The Atlanta Braves have dominated the National League in April. Can they keep it going through October? CDH’s Ian Brickey doesn’t think so.
The Atlanta Braves are living up to their hometown’s “Hotlanta” nickname. Baseball is back in Atlanta, and it’s National League opponents who are getting burned. Three weeks into the 2013 season, the Atlanta Braves have a 13-5 record — tied for best in Major League Baseball — and a three game lead in the NL East. Atlanta fans should enjoy it while they can, because it probably won’t last.
But before we get to the bad, let’s look at the good. Three things have contributed to the Braves’ success thus far: pitching, pitching and pitching. Through the season’s first month, Atlanta’s pitching staff has compiled the lowest team ERA in the majors at 2.36. They’ve surrendered the fewest earned runs in all of baseball with 42 and allowed the fewest runs per game at 2.44. Braves pitchers have given up only 11 home runs — fourth best in baseball — and have issued only 45 walks — also fourth best in baseball. The staff’s combined performances have produced an eye-popping and MLB-leading team ERA+ of 171. And that’s with an unimpressive Tim Hudson and an awful Julio Teheran.
The Braves’ pitching is the main reason for their fast start in 2013, but their gaudy Win-Loss record overshadows some troubling figures. Read the rest of this entry »
In Baseball, Culture on April 11, 2013 at 7:56 pm
CDH’s Becky Koenig reviews the Jackie Robinson biopic 42, in theaters this Friday, and examines its connections with another recent film about breaking racial barriers.
Who broke baseball’s color barrier?
As any casual fan can tell you, the simple answer is Jackie Robinson. In 1947, the speedy infielder joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first African American to play in the major leagues. But the Robinson biopic 42, debuting tomorrow, calls into question just who truly was responsible for integrating America’s pastime.
Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) shares the screen with Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), the cigar-smoking Dodgers executive determined to get him on the field. Rickey got his start playing professional football and baseball, and then managed the St. Louis Browns before serving in World War I. He returned to St. Louis as a manager and executive for the Cardinals and developed the modern minor league system. The Dodgers hired Rickey away in the early 1940s. His star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame refers to him as “the greatest front-office strategist in baseball history,” who, by signing Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, “simultaneously broke baseball’s color line and built the great Dodger teams of the 1940s and 1950s.”
This contrasts with the Robinson estate’s official website. The site asserts that “Jackie Robinson engineered the integration of professional sports in America by breaking the color barrier in baseball.” That’s the version most people have heard. In paying equal attention to the black ballplayer and the white team executive, 42 tries to resolve this tension, challenging audiences to reevaluate their assumptions about how the color barrier was broken. Read the rest of this entry »
In Baseball on April 6, 2013 at 3:39 pm
St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright signed a $97.5 million contract extension last week. Cardinals fans should be cautiously optimistic — with an emphasis on the “cautiously.”
Adam Wainwright’s good week ended with a bad night. On March 27, Wainwright agreed to a five-year $97.5 million contract extension with the St. Louis Cardinals. The deal affirmed Wainwright’s value to the team as an ace, and his contributions as a player. Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt, Jr. issued a press release heralding the extension, with words like “elite,” “leader,” “tradition” and “excellence.” Wainwright was the staff ace and would be for years to come. On April 1, Wainwright gave up 11 hits, surrendered three earned runs and took the loss in the season opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Not a great way to celebrate.
Wainwright certainly deserves his extension. As a pitcher, he’s been invaluable to the Cardinals, from closing out the 2006 World Series to assuming the role as staff ace when Chris Carpenter went down with injuries. Since becoming a starter in 2007, he’s been worth 16.7 Wins Above Replacement, recorded 7.42 strikeouts per nine innings, and finished as high as second in Cy Young Award balloting. He clearly deserves the largest contract given to a pitcher by the Cardinals. But the question should be, is he worth it? Read the rest of this entry »
In Baseball on December 26, 2012 at 2:36 pm
Life, change and the Baltimore Orioles. What a difference a year makes.
I’ve been thinking about the Baltimore Orioles a lot lately.
Maybe I’ve been thinking about the Orioles because it’s the holidays. Most of my Christmas gifts for my dad are Orioles-related. My dad and mom bought season tickets to Oriole Park at Camden Yards for the first time in 2012. Because I live a half mile away from the stadium, and because my dad had a built-in excuse to come to Baltimore, we saw more Orioles games together in the last nine months than we did throughout my four years of high school. For the first time as an adult, I am looking for season recap DVDs or team pictures for end-of-the year gifts. It’s an unusual feeling, but it’s one I could learn to like. Read the rest of this entry »
In Baseball on November 14, 2012 at 4:24 pm
After boosting the St. Louis Cardinals’s offensive production, Mark McGwire hopes to work the same magic with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The headline in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is from the Twilight Zone: McGwire, Dodgers appear to be a match. It’s all eerily familiar. After a brief stint with the St. Louis Cardinals, Mark McGwire is headed back to the Golden State. The Los Angeles Dodgers need a power boost, and McGwire wants to be closer to his family in California. What year is this, 2001?
Mark McGwire is, indeed, on the move. But he won’t be part of a lineup featuring Shawn Green, Paul Lo Duca and Marquis Grissom. He will be joining the Dodgers as hitting coach for 2013 after coaching in St. Louis for three seasons. A more fashionable way to say it would be “taking his talents to Chavez Ravine.” And yes, “talents” is the proper word. For all the steroid controversy and questionable career statistics, Mark McGwire is one of the best hitting coaches in Major League Baseball. Read the rest of this entry »
In Baseball on October 24, 2012 at 7:03 pm
The World Series begins tonight. Crim Del Harris previews the Game 1 match-up of Detroit’s Justin Verlander against San Francisco’s Barry Zito.
Ty Cobb never faced Christy Mathewson. Carl Hubbell never threw a single pitch to Hank Greenberg. Mel Ott never stared down Hal Newhouser from the batter’s box. Maybe they did during a pick-up game on the Field of Dreams, but not at Tiger Stadium and not at the Polo Grounds. When it comes to the Tigers and the Giants, they have been two baseball teams passing in the night.
In more than a century of playing baseball, the Tigers and the Giants have never faced each other in the World Series. That’s remarkable when you consider how long the teams have existed, and how good they’ve been historically. The Detroit Tigers and the San Francisco Giants have been playing baseball since 1901. Together, they have played 112 seasons, claimed 33 pennants and won 10 World Series Championships. But no scorecard, no box score and no record book has recorded a Giants-Tigers World Series. Until now. Read the rest of this entry »
In Baseball, Long form on October 23, 2012 at 6:38 pm
Like modern-day Romans and Carthaginians, Crim Del Harris writers Ian Brickey and Sam Sutton love their baseball teams and (for the next week or so) hate each other.
IB: I shouldn’t be greedy. I should appreciate 2011 for what it was: an amazing, beautiful and unexpected gift. I should be thankful that I’ve seen not one, but two World Series Championships come to St. Louis — some teams play for decades without winning the last game of the season. I should be content, but 2011 was a year ago, this is a different team and I am spoiled. To quote the Smiths: Please, please, please let me get what I want.
The Cardinals and the Giants are in the same position: win or go home. Thus far, the NLCS has been a lopsided affair. Yes, the series is tied 3-3, but five of the six games have been relative blowouts — in Games 2, 3, 5 and 6, the losing team has been kept to one run or less. Accordingly, it’s interesting that Game 7 looks like it could be a pitcher’s duel. Read the rest of this entry »
In Baseball, Long form on October 22, 2012 at 5:49 pm
Like modern-day Yorks and Lancasters, Crim Del Harris writers Ian Brickey and Sam Sutton love their baseball teams and (for the next week or so) hate each other.
There is no joy in Mudville, Mo. after a drubbing by the San Francisco Giants in Game 5. Meanwhile, San Franciscans haven’t been this happy since Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery saved the city from a nuke-wielding Ed Harris.
Ryan Vogelsong shuts the Cardinals down again, blazing his fastball (of all things) past St. Louis hitters. The Cardinals, meanwhile, do their best Washington Generals impression, giving up a four-run second inning.
SCUTARO: I’ve done far worse than kill you, Carpenter. I’ve hurt you. And I wish to go on hurting you. I shall leave you as you left me, as you left her; marooned for all eternity in the center of a dead infield… buried alive! Buried alive…!
—Final Score: Giants 6, Cardinals 1— Read the rest of this entry »
In Baseball on October 21, 2012 at 7:31 pm
Like modern-day Montagues and Capulets, Crim Del Harris writers Ian Brickey and Sam Sutton love their baseball teams and (for the next week or so) hate each other.
St. Louis is joyful. The Cardinals are one win away from the team’s first pennant since 2011. The long-suffering franchise (hey, 11 months is a long time — just ask any college sophomore) is ready to break the Curse of Gerald Laird and raise another flag.
Well, that escalated quickly. San Francisco Giants starter Barry Zito pitched like it was 2002 (a little-known Prince B-side) and dominated the Cardinals lineup. Cardinals starter Lance Lynn pitched poorly and fielded worse. The Cardinals offense looked silly, and the Giants coasted to a victory in Game 5 of the NLCS.
—Final Score: Giants 5, Cardinals 0— Read the rest of this entry »
In Baseball on October 19, 2012 at 4:57 pm
Like modern-day Aaron Burrs and Alexander Hamiltons, Crim Del Harris writers Ian Brickey and Sam Sutton love their baseball teams and (for the next week or so) hate each other.
IB: Well that was certainly worth the wait. After a 3.5 hour rain delay (during which beer continued to be sold — pure St. Louis) in Game 3 of the NLCS, the St. Louis Cardinals held on to win and take a 2-1 series lead over the San Francisco Giants. Rookie Matt Carpenter hit a crucial two-run home run and Jason Motte notched his first career six-out save for St. Louis — and with that, the ghost of 2006 Jason Isringhausen was exorcised from Busch Stadium.
The Cardinals haven’t looked as good in the last two games as they did in Game 1 of this series. Neither Chris Carpenter nor Kyle Lohse had particularly good outings, and the St. Louis offense has been almost non-existent. Combine that with an injury to Carlos Beltran and the Cardinals could be in serious trouble. But when you’re being chased by a bear, you only have to outrun the guy immediately behind you, and St. Louis has managed to outrun San Francisco thus far. Read the rest of this entry »