What ever happened to the Brooklyn Dodgers?

The Dodgers seem unreal. Last night marked their 80th victory of the season. Baseball fan or not, watching them on this historic run has been a real treat. It’s weird for me living in unfamiliar baseball territory. The Dodgers and the Mets don’t interfere with each other for the post season this year, and I rooted for the Mets whole heartedly each time the Dodgers came to town to punish us. Part of me is trying to embrace the Dodgers on this run by drawing parallels between my life and the team.

The Dodgers left Brooklyn in a historic time for New York baseball. The people of Brooklyn loved their Dodgers. “Dem Bums” as they were often affectionately referred to. They were the first version of the Mets. They were New York’s underdog in comparison to the Giants and the Yankees. My great uncle Nick was a huge Dodger fan for years while they were in Brooklyn. Things may have been a bit different for me had he stuck with them when they left for the west coast. But he instead decided to get on board with this new team in New York. The one they called, “The Metropolitans.”

California in the late 50s was just itching for a baseball team. Walter O’Malley wanted a new stadium in Brooklyn for his team, but was only offered a spot in Queens. So he decided to take a chance and make a home out west for his lovable baseball bums.  The rivalry between the Giants and Dodgers could now continue on the west coast.

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Seeing the Dodgers play here is like seeing an old friend that moved out of your neighborhood when you were a kid. It’s exciting for a different reason. The Mets are my heart and home. They’re summer nights at the ballpark with my uncle and my dad, they’re sunny afternoon games with my best friend, the Mets are always going to mean the most. But when I look at the Dodgers, I see a mutual friend. “Hey, we both came from the same place. We’re both here now, and I want you to succeed.” It’s this sense of wanting that one person or thing from your hometown to be successful in this big new place, because it means that you can do it too. The Dodgers have found plenty of success since moving to LA. Their last World Series win was in 1988, just two years after the Mets last win. They’ve been shattering franchise records all season and the table is set for them to take it all this year. The Dodgers give me a sense of hope for my own life. There’s no limit to what you can make happen, even if you’re just a bum from Brooklyn.

Gray, Darvish, and Verlander

Sonny Gray sounds like the name of a character from a Scorsese film. I hear the name Sonny Gray and I think, “well he should at least be playing for a New York or Chicago baseball team, if he sounds like a gangster right?”

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Around this time last year I was deeply hoping that maybe the Mets would make a trade for Gray. It would fit my idea of someone with his name pitching for New York and would have been a huge help to the Mets if they really wanted to make a playoff run past the Wild Card game. I know they say hindsight is 20/20, but if you would have asked me a year ago if I thought the Mets current pitching woes were a sign of things to come, I would have probably said yes. And that has more to do with the fact that the Mets training staff does not know how to handle their players or their injuries.

But my gangster stereotypes, and Mets failures aside, Gray is once again back on the trading block as the deadline approaches. Along with some other notable arms from teams who don’t seem to be going anywhere this year.

Trade rumors around Gray have been predominantly linked to the Astros. However more recently, teams like the Dodgers and event the Royals have been asking around about Gray. I would love to have him come to the Dodgers, but more so for my own selfish reasons of wanting to go see him play. My guess is though that if the Astros have been pursuing him aggressively since the start, that’s probably where he’ll end up.

The Dodgers up until a few nights ago weren’t in dire need for more pitching. But Kershaw is now back on the DL around the same time he was last year, and with no timetable for a return, it could make things uncomfortable for the Dodgers come post season time. Gray’s numbers are pretty good considering he’s been mostly inconsistent throughout his career:

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Darvish and Verlander however are also available:

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Of the three Darvish is the option that the Dodgers are really gunning for. Which means so is everyone else. They have an excellent farm system and just may have to dip into that a bit if they really want to add another ace before the season is over. The Twins already picked up their pitching help with a trade for Jaimie Garcia. The Brew Crew could also be looking at one of these three pitching options as well. The point is the Dodgers have the talent and the cash to get what they really want. And if they don’t make a move for it soon, they’ll be right back where they were last year. Coughing up their chance at a championship in the NLCS.

The Trade Deadline is coming

The trade deadline is just around the corner and it’s my favorite time of the year. Just sitting around making bold predictions of what teams will pick up which stars from teams that are just crashing and burning. It’s my equivalent of celebrity gossip. I could just keep MLB Trade Rumors open all day and shovel popcorn into my face while I wait for these big moves to happen.

The Yankees were the first to pull of something big, which seems to be a double win for them since it hurt the Red Sox. From MLB Trade Rumors:

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The Yankees certainly had the prospects available for this deal to get done, and the South Siders continue to stockpile their young talent.

Sean Doolittle, national treasure of the Oakland Athletics, much to my personal dismay is headed to the Nationals. Which is a solid deal for the Nats who desperately needed help in a bullpen that continues to cough up games for them. My prediction is still that they won’t be able to make it out of the first round of the post season. My hope is that they’ll once again be slayed by my new hometown team, the Dodgers.

Speaking of the Dodgers, it would be fantastic if they managed to pick up Stanton or Sonny Gray, though the way things have looked since they’ve come out of the All Star break it doesn’t seem like they’re in dire need for too much help. Gray is more likely to end up in Kansas City or in Houston. Stanton will probably end up in one of those last minute deals right before the deadline if he does leave Miami.

And what about the state of the Mets? Word came down today that they could be close to trading an infielder to the Red Sox who are now in need of a third baseman. Asdrubal Cabrera was the first name on that list which didn’t surprise me at all since he made a very public statement about wanting to leave just a few weeks ago. But apparently Flores and T.J. Rivera’s names are on that list as well. Wilmer Flores forever the fan favorite of every Mets fan on the planet would be such a huge loss for New York. He may not be an All Star, but he has so much heart and genuinely loves to play for his team. I still get tears in my eyes watching his walk off against the Nats in 2015. Tugging on the Mets logo with joy as he came running down the third baseline.

For myself and for most Mets fans, 2015 seems like a decade ago, and now all we can do is hope and build for the future. Fingers crossed this means we’ll at least get to see some of the young ones coming up soon.

The All Star Break

It’s always been my least favorite part of the baseball season, the all star break. It reminds us that we’re already half way through the summer, the all star game I’ve always found to be a bit boring, and I’ve never cared much for the home run derby.

I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been home sick all week, but I watched every bit of the all star break’s entertainment this time around. I’m sure a lot of people did. The home run derby was fantastic, but all anyone really wanted to see was how many homers the Yankees Aaron Judge could bash into the Marlin’s outfield sculpture. In the first round when it looked like Justin Bour had him beat with 22, Judge simply bashed 23. He made the whole thing look easy. How can it not be when you’re 6’7″ and about 280lbs? Smaller hitters like the Yankees Gary Sanchez, and the Dodgers Cody Bellinger would always have to work twice as hard to make those balls travel anywhere near as far. The shorter guys, while capable of hitting maybe just as many during a full season, don’t fair too well in a competition that requires you to hit them back to back to back. Being a bit smaller usually requires a bit more power from your legs incorporated in your swing, which will always tire you out much faster. Judge took the home run crown with ease. I don’t like a lot about the Yankees, but I love their ability to scout and bring up great players with wonderful temperament. They had it with Derek Jeter, and now they’ve found their next dynasty player in Aaron Judge.

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The All Star game. I almost skipped this again. But being sick, all I wanted to do was curl up on the couch and watch some baseball. No longer used to decide home filed advantage in the World Series, it was some how a bit easier for me to watch. There were fewer stakes on the line but you wouldn’t know it by the pace of the game. It was a pitchers duel through nine innings. The score tied at 1-1. In an era where the long ball seems to be making it’s come back, you wouldn’t know it by watching that All Star Game. The pitching stole the show. It was only on Robinson Cano’s homer in extra innings that would put the AL on top and win them the game.

And of course, aside from the all star break, July means it’s time to make moves at the trade deadline. The time of year when everyone holds their breath and hopes the team they love doesn’t fuck everything up. It’s early, but in the last 24hrs we’ve already witnessed the first big move. Jose Quintana will be leaving the South Side of Chicago for the North end. The Cubs definitely needed a pitcher to help make up for their dismal first half, and they gave away their number 2 and 8 prospects to get him. The White Sox are no where near contending this year, but now have a beautiful young crop of talent that will no doubt bring them success in the years to come.

There’s a headline on the MLB.com front page today asking if you’d rather have the Cubs rotation or the White Sox farm system. It seems like a no brainer to me, that I’d much rather have the Sox farm system. There’s so much potential there for the future, where as the Cubs rotation this year has been nothing to envy. Lester and Lackey are getting older and it’s starting to show. Montgomery and Arrieta have not been consistent. Maybe a year ago the Cubs rotation would have been something to desire, but as it stands, the White Sox future is the way to go.

Things should definitely get interesting as July rolls along. Sonny Gray is on the market and could find a home with a post season contender like the Astros. Giancarlo Stanton’s name has been floating around as well much to Miami fans displeasure. That would be a huge contract and it seems tailored for teams like the Dodgers or the Yankees. But as of tonight, the most important part of the season begins. And as of tonight, it will be my last time blogging from New York. Come tomorrow afternoon, I’ll be setting up my new home in California, and taking in the beautiful weather and some West Coast baseball.

 

 

Don’t Underestimate The Brew Crew

No one predicted the Milwaukee Brewers to be contenders this season. The NL Central was fully expected to once again belong to the Cubs, or even the Cardinals, who never seem to really have a bad season.

In fact, SB Nation predicted that the Brewers would finish somewhere in the middle of the standings at the beginning of this season. Their line up is young, and while most considered it worth watching for a good show, I don’t think anyone could have predicted that by the All Star break they would be 48-40 with a four and a half game lead at the top of the NL Central. Last year at this time, they trailed the Cubs in the NL Central by 15 games. Last night, they hammered the Cubs in an 11-2 victory. Not wanting to waste any relievers, Maddon had John Jay pitch the top of the 9th inning. Which provided a little levity for Cubs fans amidst a crushing defeat. He managed to only allow one hit in a scoreless 9th, throwing curve balls at 46mph.

The Brewers still have at least one faithful vet in Ryan Braun to help lead this team of young talent. Domingo Santana, Orlando Arcia, and Travis Shaw are no easy outs with a line up that’s built around the power of Braun and Eric Thames. The Crew was so excited about their walk off win a few weeks ago they ended up ripping off Themes’s jersey as he came home:

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To which might I add, he looks like a baseball Dothraki warrior and it’s fantastic.

It’s tough to say whether the Brewers will be able to keep this up throughout the second half. We’ll see what the trade deadline will bring as well with the Crew looking to add some pitching to try and put that final nail in the coffin of the NL Central.

The Ginger Jesus

Justin turn trounced Kris Bryant in the final all star voting, and rightfully so. The man they sometimes call “The Ginger Jesus” has more than earned that final roster spot. I truly look forward to seeing him play again once I’m in Los Angeles. Cheers Mr. Turner

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Meanwhile, the curse of “45” (That’s what I’m calling it now) continues to plague the Cubs. Maybe Bryant shouldn’t have stood so close to him at the White House the other day. At least this is one election where nothing beats the popular vote.

The Hot Corner

With the all star game right around the corner, we’re down to the wire with the final ballots. What I think came as quite a surprise to most is that Kris Bryant, one of the faces of the Cubs championship franchise, was not a given in this years all star lineup for the National League. At the same time, I don’t find it surprising at all. Bryant’s numbers this year, much like the Cubs numbers in general, have been about average:

You can’t send someone to the All Star game based off what they’ve done in the past. Bryant has struggled a little this year, but he’s a great player and I’m sure will turn things around. However at this point in the season, he doesn’t get my vote for an All Star third baseman. 

Bryant’s main competition for this last spot is Justin Turner. Based on my previous posts, I think you all know how much I personally love Turner. But he’s been having a monster year with more than enough stats to back it up:

He’s been far more productive than Bryant in fewer at bats. He came off the DL and wasted no time in picking up right where he left off with his offensive production. As of this point in the season, Turner is just the better ball player, and he definitely deserves that last spot on the roster. I voted an unnecessary amount yesterday and here’s the link so you can too! 

Cubs Visit Trump in the White House, Setting Off Another 108 Years of Bad Luck

The Cubs are not the power house they were last season. The bats haven’t always been there, it was a tough blow losing their lead off hitter to the Cardinals, and the pitching staff is starting to show it’s age. It’s not uncommon for teams to suffer a “World Series Hangover,” few teams often go back to back. Hence the San Francisco Giants and their “Even Year Magic” theme. It’s tough to create a baseball dynasty, I’ve only seen the Yankees pull off such a feat in the late 90s/ early 2000s. 

The Cubs have floated just below or above .500 this year. Which is a shock in comparison to how they ran away with the NL Central just a year ago. And while they consider their curses to be broken, they may have just kick started a brand new one. 

It’s tradition for a World Series team to visit the White House to visit the president in office that year, to present him a jersey. 

So much about that was fun. Obama grew up in Chicago, (although he is a White Sox fan) and it was cool to see a hometown team with the President in DC. The Cubs winning that World Series was one of the last good memories I have of last fall before our country descended into the rule under a tyrannical baby. 

I remember saying I was going to order one of those W flags so I could run down the street with it too once we had our first female president. (Something I still plan on doing if the world doesn’t end before then) 

But of course, nothing gold can stay…away from 45’s little grip. The Cubs visited the White House yesterday, presenting him with his very own piss colored jersey. It was completely unnecessary, aside from the fact that I assume 45 demanded it happen. Seeing those pictures forever ruined the good memories I had of that World Series run for the Cubs. It put a stain on that feeling I get when ever I think about that last good thing from October 2016. 

The Cubs season, already mediocre, seemed to continue in a downward spiral when later that night Kris Bryant suffered an ankle injury. One of their best players could now be headed to a stint on the DL and it could not come at a worse time. Just several hours earlier, catcher Miguel Montero had been released by the team for mouthing off against Arrieta. 

So I’m calling it now, this second little visit may have just caused the Cubbies another 108 years of bad luck. 45 is the black cat that crossed the dugout, the fan that had to touch that fly ball, and the dirty goat that was dragged into Wrigley, all rolled into one. 

Flippin’ Bats

This Dodgers/Mets series continues to tug at my heart as LA has now taken three of four from New York. Wheeler is on the DL, and Tyler Pill is back to make Mets fans sick with anxiety. I’m not going to lie and say that I haven’t been using LA’s trouncing of New York as another sign that my time in this city is coming to an end. But enough of about my moving feelings. Let’s talk about bat flips and homer celebrations. 

Wilmer Flores had some words with Yasiel Puig last night as he rounded first. The Mets were down 2-1 and being pummeled by the Dodgers bats all series long, and he felt Puig took just a little too long at the plate admiring his monster shot. 

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this plenty of times before, but I have no problem with these home run celebrations. I love bat flips and I love when players watch their destroyed baseball fly out of the park. I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t celebrate a feat like that. Even this season where it seems like balls are leaving the park at an alarming rate, home runs are still a tough thing to do. And when you’re the guy that hits the home run that breaks the game open, you should be excited, you should be proud of yourself for putting your team on top. And of course, if you’re not a fan of that particular team, or a player who just gave up that home run, it’s going to sting a little. It’s definitely not as much fun to watch, but I say don’t take that away from them. 

As a fan, tough it out, and honestly as the opposing team, do better. Cespedes and Reyes had a chat with Puig between innings, probably saying something along the lines of “Hey we’re already down in this series, and down in this game, maybe cool it with throwing it in our face.” That’s where I differ on this point of view. Unless there was an issue, or an argument earlier in the game, I don’t look at bat flips or “home run watching” (I’ll think of a better name for that if there isn’t one already.) as something that the batter is throwing in the other teams face. I look at it as a personal celebration. The other team is of course going to feel like it’s being done to be thrown in their face, but if you’re already beating a team the entire series, there would be no reason for the batter to celebrate as a personal attack. If you’re having a bad night, then you’re having a bad night. There’s nothing you can do sometimes unless you get an offensive push late in the game or a momentum shift, but sometimes it’s just beyond control. 

Maybe I’m just used to tough love, but players, and announcers, and who ever else want to make a case over ending the the bat flip, need to get over it. July 1st is Asdrubal Cabrera bobble head day at Citi Field, and he’s posed in his famous walk off bat flip from last season against the Phillies: 

I loved that moment. The joy on his face, the joy on the fans faces, the joy on my overtired face as I stayed up in my dark living room trying not to wake up my roommates as I screamed. Sure you could argue that Cabrera’s bat flip was more appropriate in the moment, but I bet most Phillies fans don’t see it that way. 

You can’t have it both ways. Banning the bat flip and other celebrations would be pointless. It’s emotional, it’s in the moment, and no one is going to care if they impose a fine. You’re playing a kids game professionally, why not show a little joy and fun every now and then. 

 

 

One Night in Hollywood

This Mets/Dodgers series is bitter sweet to me. Last night after Wheeler gave up 7 runs in the first two innings I almost turned off the radio broadcast all together. I stuck it out in hopes to hear of a Mets comeback. Well I was right about the comeback part, but it was no where near enough. Even with 4 home runs, and Gavin Cecchini’s first in the bigs, the Dodgers still overpowered the Mets flailing bullpen. It was like watching your new dad beat up your old dad.

Through the first half of the game, Howie Rose described the beautiful mountains and sunset over Dodger Stadium, trying to put a smiley face on the fact that the Mets are slowly going down in flames. All I could think was, at least I have that view to look forward to in a few weeks when I’m there. But it was Cody Bellinger’s home runs into the sunset that was the highlight of the evening. 

In a weird way, I’m proud of the Mets for giving Bellinger two dingers last night. Why? Well, the first home run tied Bellinger with Gary Sanchez of the Yankees for the fastest to 20 career home runs. While a multi homer run game isn’t completely impossible, it would seem unlikely that he would manage to break the record in the same night. Unlikely I suppose, if you’re not playing the Metropolitans of New York. Bellinger hit his second home run of the night in the bottom of the 2nd, making him the fastest to 21 home runs in 51 games. 

Whether your a Dodger fan or not, in the post steroid era it’s an amazing thing to witness young players come up and put on a show of raw talent. Way more impressive than watching big puffy guys like Bonds or McGuire back in the day. (At least I think so)  

If the Mets did one thing for me last night, it was prevent an Yankee player from breaking another record. That’s how far we’ve fallen this season. I’m praising a Met’s pitcher for helping another player reach a milestone. 

At least the baseball atmosphere will be a bit more positive when I make my home in the Hollywood hills.