Posts Tagged ‘Bud Selig’

Cardinals Sweep The Nats, 4-1

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

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With their chances of a playoff berth at an end, the Washington Nationals played flat in St. Louis on Wednesday, losing to the Cardinals, 4-1. The loss notched a St. Louis sweep of the Nationals in the three game set and put the Cardinals a single game from winning the N.L. Central crown.

The loss also ensured that Washington righty Jordan Zimmermann will not reach twenty wins on the season, his 2013 campaign finishing at 19-9. The Cardinals were led by rookie pitcher Shelby Miller, who stifled Nats’ hitters through six innings, giving up just four hits and one earned run.

The St. Louis offense was not overwhelming, but it was enough to seal the win: St. Louis got its first run on a Matt Carpenter ground out that scored Daniel Descalso in the 3rd, a Yadier Molina single that scored two runs in fourth and a Matt Adams home run in the bottom of the 6th.

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The Cardinals have dominated the Nationals following their victory against them in the playoffs in 2012. The Nationals have faced the Cards six times this year and lost every game; they were swept in Washington in April (in three close games) and, now, in St. Louis in September.

“I’ll tell you: They kicked our butt in just about every aspect of the game,” Washington manager Davey Johnson said in the clubhouse after this team was swept yesterday. “I tip my hat to them. Matheny has done a good over there, I wish them luck. They had their way with us.”

In each of the two series this year, the Nationals have had trouble scoring runs off the Cardinals pitching staff. The key in the most recent series has been the St. Louis relief corps, and on Wednesday four Cardinal relievers (Seth Maness, Kevin Siegrist, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal) combined to hold the Nationals to a single hit and no runs.

“The Cardinals have done a good job with their pitching staff. They have good starters, but I think what sets them apart is their bullpen,” right fielder Jayson Werth acknowledged after Wednesday’s loss. “The bullpen is good. They have a lot of velocity and they have a lot of depth.”

MLB relief statistics show just how effective Cardinal relievers have been — they’ve given up just 3.74 runs per game, good enough for fifth best in baseball and are particularly good when holding a lead (fourth best in the National League). More impressive still is that the Cardinals relief corps is young: each of the four relievers on Wednesday were rookies.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: The media powers that be are yakking about the “unbalanced schedule” in baseball, the topic providing running commentaries yesterday on both Mike & Mike on ESPN and then, later in the evening, on the MLB Network . . .

“The schedule is designed with the division races in mind,” Jayson Stark noted on ESPN. “For the first time every team in a division plays essentially the same schedule.” The problem (Stark noted) is that while baseball’s schedule emphasizes division rivalries (with each team in a division playing other division rivals up to nineteen times) that unbalance has a significant impact on the Wild Card races . . .

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It’s 11 Straight For The Braves

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

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The difference in last night’s 3-2 Braves victory over the Nationals at Nationals Park came down to a single swing of the bat. In the 8th inning, Atlanta’s Justin Upton sent a 79 mph Tyler Clippard change-up into the left field seats, sealing a tough loss for the home towners.

The Upton home run wasted one of Stephen Strasburg’s best outings of the year, and gave the red hot Braves their 11th straight victory. The Braves extended their lead in the National League East to 13.5 games. The Nationals are now at 54-58 for the season, four games under .500.

Before Upton broke up the game, the Nationals’ Strasburg had been locked in a classic pitchers’ duel with Atlanta’s Mike Minor. The Washington righty left at the end of the 7th inning, after scattering five hits and striking out nine. Minor pitched six inning while giving up eight hits.

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The Nationals had a chance to get to Minor but, as so often has been the case during the season, could not take advantage of having men on base. The Nationals put the lead-off runner on base in four successive innings, but could not take advantage.

“Get runners out there, you’ve got to get them in,” Nationals’s shortstop Ian Desmond commented after the loss. “That’s the name of the game. You’ve got to score more than they do, and we didn’t score very many tonight.” The Nationals were 1-10 with runners in scoring position.

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Robin Yount’s Legacy

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

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The Milwaukee Brewers took time out from their otherwise forgettable season on Friday night to pay homage to Robin Yount, one of two of their inductees into the baseball Hall of Fame. It was the 20th anniversary of Yount’s retirement, and he was joined on the field by Milwaukee favorite Henry Aaron and reliever Rollie Fingers.

It was a good interlude, a chance for Brewers’ fans to forget about Ryan Braun, the slugger Milwaukee partisans believed would one day join Yount in Cooperstown: an event that seems unlikely now. Friday, then, was a confirmation of sorts. It is Yount’s legacy that matters in Milwaukee, not Braun’s.

But then, the numbers alone should be proof that it’s Yount that counts, regardless of Braun. For twenty years, the Hall of Fame shortstop (and sometime center fielder), defined baseball for Milwaukee. A lifetime .285 hitter, Yount won two Most Valuable Player awards, accumulated 3142 hits, was a doubles machine and stole 271 bases.

Even more important, particularly if you’re a Brewers’ fan, Yount rooted the game in Milwaukee — a city that had seen the Braves head to Atlanta and only belatedly inherited the crippled Seattle Pilots. The move of the Pilots to Milwaukee was so sudden that the Brewers’ original uniforms were Seattle retreads, with a new Brewers’ logo sewn on.

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Bud Selig’s Nightmare — And Triumph

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

The Commissioner of Baseball is objective, right? He’s the caretaker for the game, the objective overseer who makes certain it runs right — and each season his fondest hope is that the best team wins, no matter who it is. But in a most fundamental way, fans of the game know that’s a crock: baseball is a business. At the end the year, what’s important is the bottom line.

Which is why the 2011 Brew Crew are Bud Selig’s nightmare, it’s the team that keeps him awake at night. For the truth is that, if the Yankees and Phillies make it to the World Series, baseball will benefit from television viewer ratings in two of the most important media markets in the U.S., while if the Brewers and Tigers (say) make it to the series, the numbers will . . . well, they’ll be less good.

The numbers don’t lie. Since the mid-1980s, baseball’s post-season television numbers have suffered an overall decline, and it’s worse if a big market team isn’t playing. While the 2009 Phillies-Yankees ratings weren’t any great shakes (as compared to 1986 — when the Mets and Red Sox played each other), they were a damned sight better than 2010. If the Brewers beat the D-Backs, and then the winner of the Phillies-Cardinals tilt, those post-season numbers will continue to slide.

Of course, this view can be totally wrong. The Brewers have turned into one of the most successful teams in the sport, and not just on the field. This year the Brewers set an all-time attendance record, selling 3,068,781 tickets — which made them seventh in MLB in total attendance, and fourth in the N.L. And this in baseball’s smallest metropolitan area.

The story of the Brewers is, in fact, the best business story in the major leagues. After limping into Milwaukee from Seattle in 1970, the Brewers built a fan base and a new ballpark — cultivating a market wedded to the Green Bay Packers in a town with rust belt and failing industries. The man who authored this transition was Bud Selig.

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Stammen Takes A Bite Of The Apples

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Craig Stammen’s up-and-down season (and it’s been spent mostly down, in Syracuse) headed upwards on Tuesday — as the former 2010 starting hurler and career .217 hitter put a single into right field, then scored the winning run on a Ryan Zimmerman RBI to give the Nationals another 3-2 victory in New York. Stammen’s heroics at the plate were matched by those on the mound, as he picked up the win in relief.

Stammen has not been with the big club that often this year, but when he has he’s produced, accumulating a 1.93 ERA in very limited exposure. Even so, Stammen’s time in Washington, while measly, has been impressive, and Davey Johnson confirms that the righty is in the running for a spot in the bullpen for 2012.

Stammen’s outing, and the win, brought praise from the Nationals’ skipper, who is testing farm arms with an eye towards next year: “That is the second time I’ve seen him since the callup,” Johnson said following the game. “I’ve really been impressed with the way he is throwing the ball. I gave him a couple of days rest. He was sharp. I’m pleased with what I’m seeing.”

The Nationals win came after the Mets scored two runs in the fifth off Washington starter Chien-Ming Wang. Wang has struggled in the first inning of his outings this year, but he broke that mold on Tuesday, allowing a double and three singles to a line-up that had little trouble smacking the ball around the yard. In all, Wang pitched five complete innings, but he gave up nine hits — not a stellar outing from an arm that Nats hope will fill a hole in the back of the starting rotation next year.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: There’s a lot of hubbub in New York, and around baseball, about baseball’s decision that the Mets would not be allowed to wear NYPD and NYFD hats on 9/11 to commemorate the tenth anniversary of al-Qaeda’s U.S. attack. After the Mets loss to the Nationals on Monday, Mets manager Terry Collins said that, because of the controversy, his team was not focused on the game . . .

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Streaking Nats Down O’s For Eighth Straight Win

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse both homered, and righty youngster Jordan Zimmermann pitched effectively into the sixth inning to lead the Washington Nationals to their eighth straight victory with a 4-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles at Nationals Park on Saturday. The victory continued a streak that began in San Diego and included a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Nationals are on fire and are now one of baseball’s hottest teams.

Saturday afternoon’s victory gave Nationals’ fans more of the same. The triumph featured a strong starting pitching performance (Zimmermann admitted that he didn’t have his best stuff — but it was good enough to baffle the O’s), the Nationals were able to hit the long ball (Michael Morse’s homer in the bottom of the sixth put the Nats on top to stay), and the team’s bullpen came through once again: Henry Rodriguez registered the hold, and Drew Storen notched his seventeenth save.

“It was hard work for him today,” Nats’ catcher Ivan Rodriguez said of Zimmermann’s outing. “He got behind in the count — ball one, ball two — but that’s how good he is. He can come back and challenge everybody with the fastball. He did good. For the way he was today, to fight and fight and fight to get his mechanics back on track, he did a tremendous job.” While Zimmermann might not have had his best stuff, the sign of a pitcher who has “arrived,” is that they are able to win without it.

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Nats Nipped In St. Louis

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Jordan Zimmermann pitched solidly and steadily in the second game of a day-night doubleheader, but could not come away with a win, as the Washington Nationals dropped the third game of their set with the St. Louis Cardinals, 5-3. Zimmermann threw six complete innings, and while he gave up eight hits and five runs, he kept the Nats in the game. The Cardinals Jaime Garcia and the St. Louis bullpen (thought to be the Redbirds’ weak spot), pitched better: holding the Nationals to five hits and one earned run.

The St. Louis hero was Houston retread Lance Berkman, who collected two singles, a double and two RBIs. Baseball fans remain skeptical of St. Louis skipper Tony LaRussa’s decision to set Berkman down in right field, but Berkman was been the spark for a slow-starting Cardinals’ offense. Last night’s win over the Anacostia Nine continued that early-season tradition: “The ball doesn’t know how old you are or how much experience you’ve got,” Berkman said after the victory. The Nats are set to take on the Cardinals again today, for the final game of their four game series.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: The big news in baseball is Bud Selig’s decision that Major League Baseball will take control of the day-to-day running of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Trolleys are in a heap of trouble — with the owner looking for ways to meet the payroll. This is the second time in three seasons that this has happened: Major League Baseball took over the Rangers when its owner (Tom Hicks) ran up debts. The Texas team was then (in January of 2010) sold to a consortium of business people that included Nolan Ryan. That was last year — the year the Rangers surprised baseball and ended up in the World Series. It’d be nice if this turned out as well . . .

Don Mattingly says that the takeover doesn’t really concern the team, which still has to play well, no matter who’s in the front office. Maybe they will, but it doesn’t seem likely. The Dodgers have been doing just fine on the field — but they’re not the same team that Joe Torre took into the playoffs in 2009, and (honestly) that team (despite the 95 wins) wasn’t all that great. The difference then, particularly with just an average starting staff (Wolf, Billingsley, Kershaw, Kuroda — none of them won more than 12 games), was Torre, who stepped into retirement just as things headed south. We’re just saying . . .

So, where are the vaunted Dodgers? They have a team ERA of 4.66 (that’s fourteenth in the National League), are fourteenth in runs scored (well behind the Nationals, by the bye), and are tenth in team batting average. In the only stat that matters, they trail Colorado, San Francisco and Arizona in the N.L. West and are one-half game ahead of the Friars. Ugh. There are notable bright spots: Jon Garland is throwing ground ball outs (he made the Braves look sick last night), Clayton Kershaw is still one of the league’s premier lefties, Hiroki Kuroda has an ERA of 3.33 (and has turned into a downright frightening pitcher), Matt Kemp is hitting a torrid .426, and Andre Ethier is underrated (and batting .384). You would think Donnie could do something with that . . .

The key is probably Kemp — and for Trolley fans that’s definitely not good news. The outfielder is prone to forgetting exactly where he is and is hardly a clubhouse leader. We can put some of this down to his off-field distractions, which might have caused Kemp’s in-season troubles last year (faster than a speeding bullet, he stole 19 bases in 34 attempts . . . not great). Once upon a time former Dodger coach Larry Bowa (not exactly Sigmund Freud, is our bet) attempted to do an intervention with Matthew (something no one, we imagine, might want), but even that didn’t work. “He’s wound pretty tight,” Torre said of Kemp before departing L.A.

There’s a pattern here somewhere, let’s see if we can guess what it is. L.A.’s financial problems date from the owner’s very public divorce — with the team split between former husband and former wife. Frank (McCourt) even accused Jamie (McCourt) of having an affair, and fired her from her position with the team. Ugly. Really ugly. So ugly that it has spilled a lot of ink, ink better spent talking about runs and outs. There’s even a blog for Trolley fans called Dodger Divorce. And Kemp? Kemp’s 2010 spiral coincided with his focus elsewhere. Wags say, well . . . ah . . . they say that now that that’s done, Kemp can worry about baseball, instead of giving new meaning to the term “good with the stick.

What a mess.