How We Got Here/Where We’re Going: 2013 MLB Season

Only 80+ games to go!

Only 80+ games to go!

Well wasn’t that Midsummer Classic just dandy?!  Somebody actually won, so that is a plus.  Mariano Rivera got a well deserved standing ovation as he entered the game in the 8th inning (one inning too soon Leland) to Metallic’s numbing ‘Enter Sandman’.  Mo promptly put the hitters to sleep in order….however I was long asleep by the 3rd inning of what was otherwise a snoozefest.  Luckily somebody recorded their television with a grainy cell phone camera so I was able to re-live the moment on YouTube the next morning over a bowl of Cheerios.  It was powerful.  For a full recap of the game, the Iowa Caucasus and all things Rick Santorum, check out last week’s Tuesday Teabag.  

In this edition of How We Got Here/Where We’re Going (or for the Colin Kaepernick crowd: HWGH/WWG) we’ll examine the MLB standings at the seasons midway point and make short order of weeding out the pretenders.  As a bonus, we’ll give you our waaaay too premature World Series prediction for FREE.  That’s almost as good as finding out you’ve won $10,000….and only have to wire $1,200 to cover the taxes!!  Let’s get to it: 


 1.  Boston 58-39

Despite missing the first month of the season Big Papi leads the team in home runs (19) and runs batted in (65) while sporting a cool .317 average.  If Papi can stay healthy in the second half the Red Sox (and my fantasy team) will make the playoffs.  Look for the Sox to be extremely aggressive in the trade market; perhaps calling on their old buddy Theo for Matt Garza’s services.

 2.  Tampa Bay 55-41 (2.5)

Is there a professional sports team that is more under appreciated by their own fan base than the Rays?!  The Machine has been to the Trop, it’s a dump no doubt, but still this team finds great young talent and Joe Maddon squeezes every ounce of juice from them (pun intended!).  Matt Moore has delivered on his pedigree, posting 13 wins and +100 K’s in the first half of the season.  If they can get David Price right, this team can run down and pass the Sox.

 3.  Baltimore 53-43 (4.5)

Chris Davis put up a first half worth of stats that 90% of big leaguers would be happy to have over the course of a full season: 70 Rs, 37 HRs, 93 RBIs, .315 Avg.  That’s PED-esque!  Except The Machine is pretty sure he is clean, making it that much more impressive.  Here’s hoping he keeps the power surge up, if for nothing else than the debate on what the real home run total should be.  61? 73? 

 4.  New York 51-44 (6.0)

If the season ended today you’d have to give Joe Girardi some serious love for AL manager of the year.  The Yankees have had more money tied up on their DL than most teams entire payrolls!  Not only have they held the ship together, they are 7 games above .500 with significant playing time from retreads like Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay, Travis Hafner, Jayson Nix, etc. 

Sadly, I don’t think they are going to get much of a boost from the geriatric bunch set to return from the DL (Jeter, ARod, Granderson).  I think this team treads water much of the summer before flaming out in September. 

 5.  Toronto 45-49 (11.5)

 Off Season Champs!  Sadly, in any other division this team could probably make a run.


 1.  Detroit 52-42

No shock here: the Tigers are second in the league (and MLB for that matter) in runs scored.  Max Scherzer has (finally!) been able to harness his control and is piling up strikeouts.  If Verlander can revert back to his career norms (velocity needs to pick up a few ticks) this team can go a long way in the postseason.  They still don’t have anyone that can properly close a game for them; this has to get addressed by the deadline.

Verlander should go back to hitting this!

Verlander should go back to hitting this!

 2.  Cleveland 51-44 (1.5)

Love the direction Terry Francona has this team heading.  They are going to be nipping at the Tigers heels all summer long.  I think they’ll get bold at the deadline and swing a few deals.  Oh they’ll make the postseason as a wild card, and get Cleveland’s fans hopes up just enough to open that old wound for some fresh salt.  It never gets old.

 3.  Kansas City 43-49 (8.0)

Death, taxes and the Royals sucking? 

 4.  Minnesota 39-53 (12)

Well, when Kevin Correia is the ace of your staff, being 12 back doesn’t seem all that bad! Perspective. 

 5.  Chicago 37-55 (14)

 Let the fire sale begin!


1.  Oakland 56-39

Billy fucking Beane y’all!

 2.  Texas 54-41 (2)

This division is a two-horse race that is going to be one of the better ones to watch. Adrain Beltre should start getting some MVP consideration if he continues to hit (and field) like he has.  Josh Hamilton who?  Hey guys, you can celebrate your playoff series wins like big boys now and pour Champaign….correction, Budweiser’s (it is Texas after all)…all over the place!

 3.  Los Angeles 44-49 (11)

So far this season, the Angels have paid Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton a combined $17 million dollars for a whooping 29 homers and .227 average.  Yikes.  If only somebody warned you that giving a meth-head $125 million (guaranteed) was a bad idea.  Don’t worry, maybe Mike Trout can have another once-in-a-century type of season and get this team back into contention.

 4.  Seattle 43-52 (13)

King Felix is going to play for a perennial loser his entire career.

 5.  Houston 33-61 (22.5)

Welcome to the American League!


 1.  Atlanta 54-41

It’s actually scary to think how good this team could be if they could get ANY kind of production from Jason Heyward (.227, 7 HRs, 21 RBIs, 49Ks) or BJ Upton (.177, 8 HRs, 20 RBIs, 102Ks).  Pathetic.  Julio Teheran is going to make a serious push for NL Rookie of the Year.

 2.  Washington 48-47 (6)

Baseball karma for sitting Strasburg last postseason?!  This team is exciting to watch, but I don’t think they’re going to be able to catch the Braves.

 3.  Philadelphia 48-48 (6.5)

This was the easiest division in baseball to predict at the beginning of the year.  These teams will finish in their current order in the standings.  With the expanded wild card in play, the Phillies are only 5.5 back.  It kind of feels like 15.5 with this team though.  They should consider themselves sellers early in the process and try to get younger.

 4.  New York 41-50 (11) 

You play in a wildly successful, UNCAPPED professional sport in the BIGGEST market in the world.  You should be punching your playoff ticket year in and year out.  This franchise is a travesty. 

 5.  Miami 35-58 (18)

Forget George Zimmerman, Jeffrey Loria is the Floridian that should be thrown in jail!


 1.  St. Louis 57-36

 Another organization that does it right.  From the ownership, to the management, to the scouts, to the players and the fans.  

  2.  Pittsburgh 56-37 (1)

Death, taxes and the Pittsburgh…waaaait a minute!  Not only are the Pirates going to end a 20 year winning-season drought, they are going to represent the NL in the World Series!

 3.  Cincinnati 53-42 (5)

There are a handful of guys I’d pay to see play.  Joey Votto is one of those guys.  However, I don’t trust this pitching staff enough to keep them in the hunt the rest of the way.

 4.  Chicago 42-51 (15)

 How many years does this make it now?  102?  402?

 5.  Milwaukee 38-56 (19.5)

The Brewers are 18 games under .500.  Ryan BioBraun has missed roughly half of the team’s games with various ailments.  Which begs the question, how terrible is this team going to be when he misses the entire 2014 season?


 1.  Arizona 50-45

 Unless you’re a diehard Diamondbacks fan, or a fantasy baseball dork, Paul Goldschmidt (.313, 21 HRs, 77 RBIs, 9 SBs) is probably the best player you’ve never heard of. 

This team has taken on the persona of their manager, Kurt Gibson, and is playing smart, fundamental baseball.  If you think their starting five (Corbin, Miley, Kennedy, Cahill, McCarthy) is a bit hard to trust, wait until you make your way to the bullpen (Putz, Bell, Hernandez).

2.  Los Angeles 47-47 (2.5)

The Dodgers and their Cuban sensation Yasiel Puig seem to be biggest media draw the first half of the season.  After stumbling out of the gate the Dodgers have come roaring back, winning 17 out of their last 22 games, cutting the D’backs lead to just two.  You can never count a team with Kershaw out (best pitcher in baseball), but something just isn’t right with Matt Kemp.  It will be interesting to see how far Puig can carry this team.

3.  Colorado 46-50 (4.5)

 Free CarGo!

4.  San Francisco 43-51 (6.5)

 World Series hangover in full effect.

5.  San Diego 42-54 (8.5)

Your weather forecast is 76 degrees, sunny with an ocean breeze….for the rest of the year.  Nobody feels bad for you SD.


World Series Pick: Texas over Pittsburgh

Game 4 – Whatever

The Machine is so glad to be occupied by football today (our first love), and not focus on The Machine’s epic failure in baseball (our slump buster).

As you know, The Machine threw its weight behind the Tigers.  After a gutsy series against the A’s, and after destroying the mighty Yankees, the Tigers were poised to claim their first World Series crown since ’84, and the good people of Detroit were ready to celebrate by overturning cop cars and setting the City on fire (known in Detroit as Tuesday).  Now, all hope is lost.

Wait a minute, The Machine doesn’t cut and run.  While others will point to “facts”, like no team has ever come back to win a World Series after being down 0-3, The Machine says “suck it, facts.”  We’re all in, and The Machine is ready to sit back and watch the Tigers turn this mutha around.

It’s not that crazy, really.  Sure the Giants have their best pitcher going tonight in Matt Cain, but Max Scherzer is no slouch.  He was second in the AL in strikeouts (second to Verlander), has a nasty sinker/fastball combo, and a sick 0.82 ERA in the post season.  If the Tigers win tonight, then Verlander pitches Game 5.  Chalk that down for a win, and now the Tigers have the momentum, and we got ourselves a World Series worth watching.

However, that’s a BIG IF.  In order to win in baseball, you need to score runs…and that’s where the Tigers’ problems lie.  They’ve been held scoreless the past 2 games in a row (to put that in perspective, in 162 regular season games this year, they were shut out only 2 times), due in part by solid pitching from San Fran but also due to a lack of clutch hitting.  It’s sounds like we’ve said this before, but there’s no way the Tigers bats can be silent for 4 games in a row.  There’s also no way Miggy will pop out with the bases loaded.

Come on, Detroit.  Give the City a reason to start barrel fires besides utter hopelessness and a meth problem.  Plus, we’re not ready for baseball to be over (if only they would play more games during the regular season).

Lock it down.  The Tigers find a way to stay alive.

Game 3 – Back in Mo Town Bitches!!!

The Machine has been slightly off thus far in the World Series (we are taking credit for calling Fister’s solid performance—travesty that he got credited with the loss) but we’re not ready to give up on the Tigers yet…although we should.

Just four days ago, everyone was lamenting the Giants’ predicament, having to start Zito in Game 1 and not being able to set their rotation after a grueling 7 game series with St. Louis.  What was an unfortunate situation has now turned golden for San Francisco, who now have their two best pitchers (Vogelsong and Cain) for Games 3 and 4.

The Tigers, meanwhile, trot out underperforming Anibal Sanchez.  A big name pick up at the trade deadline, Sanchez has been shaky at best for the Tigers.  He’s stepped up his game as of late (2.43 ERA in September) and has been almost unhittable in the post season, posting a 1.35 ERA with hitters batting .174.  Plus, as a Marlin, he threw 2 complete game shut outs against the Giants.  Sanchez, a free agent at the end of the season, could cement the Top 5 contract he’s looking for with a clutch performance.

However, as Game 2 showed us, great pitching isn’t enough.  Where the hell are the Tigers’ bats???  Miggy and crew have looked downright befuddled, and have coupled poor hitting with even poorer base running decisions (if only Prince could only slim down to 250, he’d have been safe).  For Christ sake, someone pass the Patron to Miggy, desperate times call for desperate measures.

The Giants, meanwhile, have played smart baseball, and have risen to the occasion, as every champion must.  Kung Fu Panda has been absolutely dominant, and even though Buster Posey still gets carded for buying lotto tickets, his .428 average this series is impressive.

While the momentum clearly favors San Francisco, The Machine still believes there’s life in the Tigers (chalk it up to our innate stubbornness).  Sanchez wants that contract (paging:  Brian Cashman) so look for him to continue his post season dominance.  And the Tigers’ bats cannot be quiet three games in a row (right?).

Look for the Tigers to ride the Mo Town love to a Game 3 victory.

Game 2 – It’s Time for the Fister!

A phrase not unpopular in San Francisco, it takes on a whole new meaning tonight, as Game 2 is about to get underway.

As impressive as the Giants looked last night, The Machine likes the Tigers chances in Game 2.  It all comes down to pitching, and the edge goes to Fister over Baumgarner.  While only sporting a 10-10 record during the season (hampered early on by a rib injury), Doug Fister had a solid September, and has been even more impressive in October, posting a 2.52 ERA during that span.  Baumgarner, on the other hand, struggled in September and has struggled even more in the post season, going 0-2 in the playoffs.

That should lead to plenty of chances for the Tigers offense, who should be swinging early and often.  Look for Miggy and crew to jump out to an early lead, and Fister to continue his late season success.

If Game 1 taught Leyland anything, it’s that Papa Malo will never see the mound again.  Jimmy won’t make the same mistake twice, and the Tigers’ bats won’t stay quiet two games in a row.  The Series gets evened up tonight.

World Series (of Baseball) 2012 Edition

And then there were two.  I know the entire central time zone will be offended by this (but really, when was the last time anyone gave a shit about the central time zone), but The Machine sure is glad that St. Louis didn’t make it to the World Series.  Nothing against the birds either, Mike Matheny and crew had a hell of season all things considered (they did lose a pretty good first baseman to free agency if I’m not mistaken).  But the real reason we were pulling for the Giants is that they match-up better against the Tigers.  While no one walking planet earth can come close to matching Verlander pitch-for-pitch, the Giants boast a deep and talented rotation of their own.  So let’s dissect each team, and determine who is going to win this thing…..

Detroit Tigers, 88-74 AL Central Champs

ALDS Series: Beat Oakland (3-2) in five games, outscoring them 17-11.

ALCS Series: Beat New York (4-0) in four games, outscoring them 19-6. (No, that’s not a typo!)

General Vibe: The Tigers made quick work of the Yankees and got themselves a few extra days of rest.  This can actually have an adverse effect on baseball players, who are creatures of habit and routine.  Still, a veteran manager like Leyland should be able to keep this bunch focused and hungry.  And they have to feel pretty damn good about their chances considering they have the best pitcher and best hitter in baseball.

San Francisco Giants, 94-68 NL West Champs

NLDS Series: Beat Cincinnati (3-2) in five games, getting outscored 18-22.

NLCS Series: Beat St. Louis (4-3) in seven games, outscoring them 35-19.

General Vibe:  Down 3 games to 1 against the Cardinals this group battled back to win the pennant in improbable fashion.  This team is built for post season play, returning a majority of their young and talented pitching staff that helped them win the 2010 WS.

Starting Pitching:

Detroit – As mentioned, Justin Verlander is otherworldly; filthy; sick.  A perennial 15+ Win, sub 3 ERA, 225 K, Cy Young (and MVP) caliber pitcher.  Verlander is slated to take the ball in Game 1 and Game 5; advantage Tigers!

The rest of the Tigers rotation is filled guys whom may, or may not, give you a solid outing, including: Max Scherzer, Doug Fister (possibly the greatest name in baseball) and Anibal Sanchez (another name that has urban dictionary written all over it).  These guys have great postseason numbers this year, but those figures are slightly inflated thanks to a Yankee team that couldn’t buy a hit (irony at its finest!).

As good as Verlander has been, Jose Valverde – Papa Malo – has been equally bad.  How bad you ask?  Try 7 earned runs in 2.1 post season innings pitched bad!  That ball Ibanez hit still hasn’t landed!  If this gas can enters the game with anything less than a 5 run lead look out!  That chain smoker Leyland isn’t a fool; you’ll see him squeeze as much juice out of his starters as possible, play the match-ups out of the pen, and hand the ball to Phil Coke/ Al Alburquerque to close the door.  At this point can you really trust your entire season on Jose Valverde?!

San Francisco – Is there a stable of more talented, young pitchers in the bigs these days?  Cain, Bumgarner, Vogelsong, Lincecum.  Unfortunately for the Giants, due to their seven game tilt with the Cardinals, none of these guys are pitching Game 1.  Instead they turn to, wait for it, Barry Zito.  Yes, that Barry Zito.  How he is still getting guys out (let alone winning games) is beyond our comprehension.  Zito is bad.  Not quite Valverde bad, but still not a guy you can trust.  But perhaps that plays into the Giants hand.  Considering the roll Verlander is on, chances are slim even with your best pitcher that you beat him.  So, chalk up Game 1 as an ‘L’ and give yourself the pitching edge in games 2, 3 and 4.  I’m not sure punting a WS game is ever sound advice, but it may be their best shot to stretch this thing to seven games and give themselves a chance.


Detroit – There is a lot to love about this lineup, and it all starts with Miggy Cabrera.  The guy not only lead his team in HRs, AVG, and RBIs, he lead the entire league in those categories!  Not since Affirmed in 1978 has there been a Triple Crown Winner!  Now, as we all know, Miggy’s success is directly related to how incredibly fucked up he can get on the eve of this series, and our MoTown sources have indicated that the Patron has been flowing since 7 PM EST tonight, so except big things from our favorite horse in this race!  Add in Cecil Fielders boy, Delmon Young, Infante,Jackson and Peralta and you’ve got a dangerous lineup.  Oh, and because it has the chance to cost them a game in this series it is worth mentioning that during the regular season this team was one of the worst defensively.  They seem to have tightened the reigns a bit in the postseason, but this could be their Achilles heel.

San Francisco – Don’t be surprised if the best hitter in this series turns out to be Buster Posey.  This kid can flat out rake!  Also, I love Sandoval recent approach at the plate; he seems to be locked in this postseason.  Mix in scrappy hitters like Pence, Pagan and Scutaro and you have a team that always seems to be scoring timely runs.

Survey Saaaays:

We’re in for a real treat with this series!  There is a lot to love about both teams. (We loathe the fact that the Giants have home field advantage because Bud Selig is the biggest blow hard in sports and Melky “let me drop the fake website excuse on them” Cabrera was juiced out of his mind during the All Star.  Oh and while on the topic of baseball shit that drives us nuts, could someone please explain why the hell Game 7 is schedule to take place in NOVEMBER!  This is baseball.  BASEBALL.  You play baseball in the SUMMER.  This series should have been over 2 weeks ago).  Anyways, give us the Tigers in six.

Game 5 — It’s on!!!

The postseason’s first Game 5, Athletics v. Tigers, just got underway.  FYI, half of The Machine is a diehard Tigers fan…the other half a front-running no good Yankees fan (but damn Raul was smooth last night).

Maybe it’s because the season is dreadfully long (who watches baseball in June?) but playoff baseball has a completely different feel than regular baseball.  It’s compelling, action packed, and the games don’t seem as long.  There are 4 games on tonight and The Machine has watched all of them.  We haven’t even checked the waiver wire in fantasy football (pick up Vick Ballard, btw).

Anyway, back to the A’s and Tigers.  Justin Verlander can firmly establish himself (and save Papa Grande’s ass) as the best pitcher in baseball with a clutch performance tonight, and the Tigers are going to need it too if they have any chance of winning.  Verlander needs to go at least 7 (really 8) innings.  Actually, he needs to throw a complete game.  And Miggy needs to put on the triple crown and get the offense rolling.

You got to hand it to the A’s.  It’s hard to name more than 3 members, but these no name moneyballers know how to get it done.  Down 0-2 in the series (and also down 3-1 in the bottom of the ninth last night) they’ve clawed their way back and have a chance to stage a remarkable comeback.

However, names matter, and the Tiger’s got em’.  Verlander’s good for at least 120 pitches, and that offense is waiting to tear it open.  It will be close, but The Machine believes in Motown.

The Machine’s totally arbitrary prediction:  Tigers 4, A’s 3.

His name is Raul…

…and all he does is launch game deciding, series altering bombs. In a twist of baseball irony that only Tim McCarver gets wood over, Ibanez pinch hit for our generations most prolific, self absorbed, walking PR-abortion of a hitter in A-Rod to deliver a game tying (bottom of the 9th, one out) AND game deciding blast (bottom of the 12th) to help the Yanks take a 2-1 series lead (not to mention an emotional boost to an aging team that needs all the energy it can get)!

Walk off like a hero!

Big props to Joe Girardi; sure, he looks like a genius now, but that took some major stones at the time given the risks and implications involved.

His name is Raul!



You stay classy, Kansas City!

I get it, I think. Robby Cano didn’t pick your boy, Billy Big Country Butler for the Homerun Derby.  Instead of selecting your tubby golden boy he went with: Mark Trumbo, the 6’4” mountain of a man right fielder who knocked 29 homers last year and already has 22 this year; Jose Bautista, the guy that has averaged 49 HRs the last two years and is on pace for 54 this year; and Prince Fielder, your 2011 (and now 2012) homerun derby champ!  Not to mention the slew of worthy candidates that were snubbed, including Josh Hamilton (27 HRs), Adam Dunn (25 HRs) and David Ortiz (22 HRs) just to mention a few.

But no, you wanted to see Billy freaking Butler and his 16 HR power bat.  Billy currently checks in behind Josh Reddick, Trevor Plouffe and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the AL homeruns this year.  While Billy’s physique may represent that of a power hitter (and that’s being kind), the comparison ends there.  He has topped 20 HRs in a season exactly ONE time (21 in 2009).  I don’t care if the derby was held at the house Butler grew up in, with so many potent bats he simply didn’t deserve to step up to the plate.


So while the first couple rounds of booing were half expected, and somehow a show of support for your guy, you just couldn’t let it go.  The toothless inbreed gene took over and you found something, anything, to cheer for.  It must have felt great, because lets be honest, what have the Royals brought to the table in the last few (27) years?

The silver lining is that you had Bud Selig throwing up in his mouth, all but ensuring it will be another 39 years (at least) before you get a sniff of hosting duties!  Crawl back into your prairie huts and keep telling yourself you have the best BBQ (when the rest of us know that Texas,  Memphis, and maybe even Carolina have got you beat)!

Speaking of Bud, when are you going to take The Machines advice and give the derby the jolt it really needs: metal bats!  We don’t want to see guys hit homers into McCovey Cove; we want guys clearing San Francisco Bay.  We want Prince Fielder hitting balls from Kauffman Stadium to Arrowhead Stadium.  Just think about it Bud and ask yourself this simple question: What Would Roger Do?