Thursday, October 31, 2019

Congrats Nats! plus some Updates

2019 has been a year for franchises' first championships: The NHL's St. Louis Blues won their first Stanley Cup, the NBA's Toronto Raptors won their first NBA title, and now the Washington Nationals have won their first World Series!

I've always had a place in my heart for the Nationals, as I live in an area where their games are broadcast, so they're semi-local. I also was a fan of the Expos, and seeing the franchise finally win it all was pretty exciting to me. From the beginning of the playoffs, they were the team I was hoping would take home the World Series trophy, and they did it. They got one for Mr. National, Ryan Zimmerman, who's nearing the end of his career, and a long list of veterans got their first as well. Really glad this happened. The Astros were a tough opponent, but the Nats stepped up when it counted most and got the job done. I can't think of a better ending to the 2019 baseball season.

Now that it's over, I've updated a few of my lists. You can check them out here:

The Run That Clinched It
Back-to-Back World Series With Different Franchises
One At-Bat, One Home Run

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

A List Updated After Nine Years: First World Series Homer in Franchise History

Some of you longtime readers may remember a list I made when the Rangers were in their first World Series back in 2010. Mitch Moreland was the first Ranger to homer in World Series play, and I thought it'd be fun to look back on who held the distinction for other franchises.

Now that the Nationals have played their first World Series game, it's time to update it. Instead of editing that old post with my outdated Google Sheet embed method, I'll put a table here:

PiratesJimmy SebringCy Young10/1/1903
Red SoxPatsy DoughertySam Leever10/2/1903
CubsJoe TinkerBill Donovan10/11/1908
TigersDavy JonesBabe Adams10/13/1909
AthleticsDanny MurphyHarry McIntire10/20/1910
GiantsLarry DoyleCharley Hall10/15/1912
BravesHank GowdyJoe Bush10/12/1914
PhilliesFred LuderusRube Foster10/13/1915
DodgersHi MyersBabe Ruth10/9/1916
White SoxHappy FelschSlim Sallee10/6/1917
IndiansElmer SmithBurleigh Grimes10/10/1920
YankeesBabe RuthPhil Douglas10/9/1921
TwinsGoose GoslinJack Bentley10/5/1924
CardinalsBilly SouthworthUrban Shocker10/3/1926
RedsJimmy RippleSchoolboy Rowe10/3/1940
OriolesGeorge McQuinnMort Cooper10/4/1944
MetsDonn ClendenonDave McNally10/12/1969
RoyalsAmos OtisBob Walk10/14/1980
BrewersTed SimmonsBob Forsch10/12/1982
PadresKurt BevacquaDan Petry10/10/1984
Blue JaysJoe CarterTom Glavine10/17/1992
MarlinsMoises AlouOrel Hershiser10/18/1997
DiamondbacksCraig CounsellMike Mussina10/27/2001
AngelsTroy GlausJason Schmidt10/19/2002
AstrosMike LambJose Contreras10/22/2005
RockiesMatt HollidayHideki Okajima10/27/2007
RaysCarl CrawfordCole Hamels10/22/2008
RangersMitch MorelandJonathan Sanchez10/30/2010
NationalsRyan ZimmermanGerrit Cole10/22/2019

If you go back and read that original post, you can see I classified each of these guys based on how fitting they were for the distinction, and I think Ryan Zimmerman definitely falls into the "Franchise Stars" category. Congrats, Mr. National, and let's go Nats!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Oldest Ringless Players and Playoff Predicitons: 2019 Edition

Yes, folks, I'm still alive. I decided to take a break from compulsively updating this blog because it was getting to be too much of a distraction. But I'm back for playoff time, the part we all look forward to each season.

To start out, here's the annual Oldest Ringless Players list:

Atlanta Braves: Darren O'Day (b. October 22, 1982)
Houston Astros: Zack Greinke (b. October 21, 1983)
Los Angeles Dodgers: Rich Hill (b. March 11, 1980)
Milwaukee Brewers: Matt Albers (b. January 20, 1983)
Minnesota Twins: Nelson Cruz (b. July 1, 1980)
New York Yankees: Edwin Encarnacion (b. January 7, 1983)
Oakland Athletics: Joakim Soria (b. May 18, 1984)
St. Louis Cardinals: Matt Wieters (b. May 21, 1986)
Tampa Bay Rays:
Eric Sogard (b. May 22, 1986)
Washington Nationals: Fernando Rodney (b. March 18, 1977)

I can still remember when it was rare for any players on this list to have been born in the 1980s. I've been doing this for a long time. Wouldn't it be great if Fernando Rodney, who seems to frequently show up on this blog around this time of year, finally got that ring? Hey, it could happen. The NHL's St. Louis Blues and the NBA's Toronto Raptors both won their first championships this season, so maybe 2019 is the year of franchises' first titles. The Nats would be perfect for that in baseball, and it'd be funny if it happened right after Bryce Harper left town. I can dream.

My preseason predictions actually weren't terribly far off, though obviously I didn't get everything right. For my predictions now that we have the real thing, here we go:

Stupid Wild Card Games That Nobody Wanted

Washington over Milwaukee
Tampa Bay over Oakland

Trying to predict a one-game playoff is a fool's errand, since it's basically a coin flip, but what the heck.

I think Washington is a better team than Milwaukee in terms of actual talent, and they don't have the injury problems the Brewers are facing. Throw in the fact that they're at home and Milwaukee's probably out of gas after going on a late-season tear to clinch a postseason spot, and I give the Nats the edge here. Personally, I'm rooting for them as well.

I pick Tampa Bay to beat Oakland because that's what my gut says. I'm rooting for Oakland, but I get a feeling that Charlie Morton's going to pitch a gem to put the Rays in the real playoffs.

National League Division Series

St. Louis over Atlanta
Los Angeles over Washington

I pick the Cardinals to beat the Braves because they're the Cardinals. Old school readers know how much I hate them and believe them to be evil. Mentally, I always give them the upper hand until they lose. The Dodgers have been too much of a powerhouse this year for me to think they'll be upset in the first round. You gotta go with them here.

American League Division Series

Houston over Tampa Bay
New York over Minnesota

While New York's starting rotation is a question mark and I'd love to see the Twins beat them, I just can't bring myself to pick against the Evil Empire in this matchup. The Twins seem jinxed against the Yankees in the playoffs, and until they beat them, I'm going to be pessimistic about their chances. I pick Houston over Tampa Bay because the Astros are simply the best team in baseball this year.

National League Championship Series

Los Angeles over St. Louis

The Cardinals might be evil, but the Dodgers are so good that I think it would be a huge upset for the Cardinals to beat them. Nothing's impossible in a short series, of course, but I'm still not convinced that the Cardinals haven't played above their heads this year. I pick L.A. to win its third straight pennant.

American League Championship Series

New York over Houston

Yes, Houston is the better team and they'll have home field advantage, but as I said at the beginning of the season, do you really think we're going to get out of this decade without seeing the Yankees win a pennant? Just when you think they're down, they come back to break your heart. That's the kind of franchise they are. Besides that, they're out for revenge after the Astros beat them in 2017, so this would seem the time to exact it.

World Series

New York over Los Angeles

Oh wow, look at this classic matchup. Why, it harkens back to the good old days of the 1950s when no one outside of New York ever won anything in October. It's also reminiscent of the battles between Lasorda's men and the Bronx Zoo pinstripers from the '70s and '80s. It doesn't get any better for baseball than this big-market matchup, does it? So who wins? Eh, let's go with the Yankees, because what could be more fitting? It would be terribly wrong if CC Sabathia couldn't close out his career with one more World Series ring and Brett Gardner retired hitless in World Series play. It's gotta happen. It's just gotta.