Tagged: Cardinals

January 19, 2013: The Day the Legends Died

Yesterday, our Major League Baseball family lost two of its greatest members: Stan Musial and Earl Weaver. Here, we pay tribute to the Hall of Fame player and manager, respectively, for their contributions both on and off the field to this great sport we all love.  Our condolences to their families, friends, and Cardinals and Orioles fans everywhere.

Musial:Weaver

Jeremy on Stan Musial: I was at dinner with my girlfriend (the biggest Cardinals fan in the world) tonight when I got the text that Musial had passed away. Immediately, I was torn — do I tell her? Ruin our date night? After letting the shock subside, I made the right choice. I told her what happened, and held her hand as she sobbed in the middle of the restaurant. Stan the Man wasn’t just a great baseball player. He was a legendary hero both on and off the field. Baseball fans everywhere, especially Cardinals fans, have reason to be devastated this weekend. What we’ve lost with Musial is above the diamond, above the dirt, above the balls and bats and gloves. We’ve lost perfection. The perfect player and person and everything that is right about baseball. As former commissioner Ford C. Frick coined about Musial, …”here stands baseball’s greatest warrior. Here stands baseball’s greatest knight.” Though undervalued as a player, Musial will never be forgotten as a man. And even though, as my girlfriend said through tears, “I feel like I lost a family member. Like baseball died tonight,” the game will live on because of men like Musial. A man who gave his heart and soul to every blade of grass, grain of dirt, and loyal fan that he touched along the way. Rest in peace, Stan.

Bryan on Stan Musial: There are few baseball players that would elicit the type of response upon their passing the way Stan Musial has.  The short list would include Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Yogi Berra.  Stan “The Man” embodied the city of St. Louis and was the greatest player to ever play for one baseball’s greatest franchises.  He was the model of consistency with 1,815 hits at home and 1,815 hits on the road in his career, plus a 24-time all-star, three-time MVP and World Series champion.  However, Musial was more than just a Hall of Famer on the field, he was a Hall of Famer off it.  The honor that shows how truly amazing “The Man” was is being bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  When Musial became just the 8th baseball player to receive the honor, President Barack Obama said “Stan remains to this day an icon untarnished, a beloved pillar of the community, a gentleman you’d want your kids to emulate.”  Stan Musial may be one of the most underrated baseball superstars of all-time, but when I one day teach my future children about the game, “The Man” will be high up on the list of players I would like them to follow in the footsteps of off the field.  For Cardinals fans, he’ll always be at the top.

Jeremy on Earl Weaver: The first time I ever heard of Earl Weaver, I was just a little kid. I’m far too young to remember his managerial days in person, but I’ve always been an avid baseball fan. And I distinctly remember owning an awesome book as a kid about bizarre baseball stories, and flipping to “Earl Weaver’s double heave-ho.” That, of course, referencing the doubleheader in which the hotheaded manager was ejected from both games — a feat Lou Piniella could only hope to achieve. Anger issues aside, Weaver will be remembered for his remarkable success as a big league manager: five 100-win seasons, four World Series appearances (one victory, in 1970), and a career .583 winning percentage that ranks first among managers since 1960. Widely credited for being a brilliant tactician, Weaver was far ahead of his time with defensive fundamentals and the preaching of patience at the plate — he changed the way baseball games were managed forever. Rest in peace, Earl.

Bryan on Earl Weaver: Is there a better known manager all-time than Earl Weaver?  Weaver was a fantastic manager, but his penchant for arguing with umpires makes him a focal point of baseball lore.  My dad has been an umpire for my entire life and would always tell stories of growing up watching Weaver berate umpires and getting ejected only fueling his rage more.  One of my father’s favorite umpires Ron Luciano not once, but TWICE ejected Weaver BEFORE the game.  In my time reading anecdotes about Weaver since his passing, I came across this 1982 Sports Illustrated article about the relationship between Luciano and Weaver.  I’d encourage everyone to read it, to help get a grasp on Weaver’s shenanigans from the view of his biggest nemesis.  Antics aside, Weaver was a great manager, getting the most out of his players , winning  the 1970 World Series, and becoming beloved by the Charm City.  The Orioles will never have a manager like Earl Weaver again, that’s for sure.

Two baseball icons that defined their cities got the call up to heaven.   Each have their numbers retired.  Each have statues outside their home ballparks.  Each with Hall of Fame plaques hanging in the hallowed halls of Cooperstown.  Each will be remembered by baseball fans forever.  Thanks for the memories Stan and Earl.

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes) & Jeremy Dorn (@jamblinman)

Who Wins Game 7? Cardinals or Giants?

It’s the two most beautiful words not just in baseball, but in all of sports.  Game seven.  One game decides your playoff fate.  Everything you’ve put into the season comes down to one game where one pitch, one swing, one call, one stolen base, one error can be the difference.  The San Francisco Giants brought us to these two words with their 6-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday night.  Monday night at AT&T Park the Giants will look to come back from two games down for the 2nd straight series and advance.  Let’s try and figure out who will win.

Starting Pitcher: Kyle Lohse vs. Matt Cain

Have to start with the scheduled starters.  Both of these starters have arguably had a career year in 2012 and this game will define how they look back on this season.  Lohse has been great this postseason with a 1.96 ERA including giving up just one earned run over 5.2 innings in a victory over the Giants in game three.  Lohse was erratic though giving up 5 walks.  Lohse has has a history of not coming up big in huge games (see 2011 playoffs), but may have turned a new leaf in 2012.  Cain, on the other hand, has been “Bizarro Lohse.”  He was spectacular in big games previously (see 2010 playoffs), but has given up three runs in each start this postseason.  Cain got the win for San Francisco in game five against the Reds.  This one is close, but give me the previous elimination game winner.

Advantage: Giants

Bullpen

Both bullpens have been spectacular this series.  I’m sure everyone is going to be available for Monday’s game.  Jason Motte has become the big closer everyone thought he would be.  Sergio Romo has taken control of the closer role for the Giants and has the best slider in the game.  I think Mike Matheny left Chris Carpenter in game six through four innings to try and preserve his bullpen for a potential game seven.  St. Louis ended up using Shelby Miller for two innings, Fernando Salas for 1.1 innings, Marc Rzepczynski and Edward Mujica for 1/3 of an inning each.  Not on that list is Trevor Rosenthal and Jason Motte.  The Giants had to use their standard of Jeremy Affeldt (.2 IP), Santiago Casilla (.1 IP), and Romo (1 IP) to lock down a game seven.  I would not be surprised if we see Motte come in for a six-out save in game seven if needed.  This one is tough.

Slight Advantage: Cardinals

Lineup

The big question stemming from game six is will Matt Holliday be ready to play?  He may not be 100%, but if you think he’s missing this game I’ve got a giant bridge in San Francisco to sell you.  Buster Posey has been completely off offensively this series, hitting just .136.  Posey does have a flair for the deciding game dramatic as he hit a grand slam in game five of the NLDS against Cincinnati.  Marco Scutaro has been the hot bat for San Francisco hitting .458.  The other big question for the Cardinals lineup is with Holliday back, is there room for Matt Carpenter?  Carpenter owns Matt Cain it seems and had a home run off him in game three.  I think overall with Holliday, Yadier Molina, Allen Craig, Carlos Beltran, and David Freese this should be good for St. Louis.

Advantage: Cardinals

Manager: Mike Matheny vs. Bruce Bochy

I have nothing against Mike Matheny, but his team almost blew a 2-1 lead in the NLDS against the Nationals.  His team has now blown a 3-1 lead in the NLCS against the Giants.  It’s his first season.  It’s his first playoffs.  Give me the guy with the World Series ring on his hand, even though I’m sure Matheny is making a call to Tony LaRussa tonight.

Advantage: Giants

Random Stats!

The Giants have now won five straight eliminations games in these playoffs, only the 1985 Royals won more elimination games in a single postseason with six.  The Cardinals have won six straight elimination games, dating back to 2002, where they lost to….you guessed it!  The Giants.  Mike Matheny could become the first rookie manager to lead his team to the World Series since Bob Brenly got the Diamondbacks there in 2001.  The Giants have never won a game 7 as a team, they are 0-5, the worst mark in MLB history.  This is the first game seven in the NLCS since 2006, where the Cardinals beat the Mets.

I reached out to my fellow podcasters for their predictions.  Here’s what they have.

Jeremy Dorn: Cardinals 345, Giants 0.  No really, 5-3 St. Louis.  Lohse has been better than Cain this postseason and the Cards have never lost a game 7 right?

Brian Boynton: Giants 6-5

Kurt Peter: Giants 5-2

Angelo Feliccia: Lots of rain to help out my Tigers in the World Series.  I’ll take the Giants 4-0, but I could see Romo blowing this game though late.

Final Mapes Prediction: Buster Posey shows why he’s the MVP and gets another big hit for the Giants.  While Lohse is erratic once again forcing Matheny to go to the bullpen earlier than he’d like and is bailed out by Rosenthal, Mujica, and Motte.  It’ll be too late as Cain gets the job done over seven innings and turns the ball over to Affeldt and then Romo.  Then again, it’s baseball, nothing is EVER that simple.  Giants 4 Cardinals 2, enjoy game seven everybody!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

Video Reaction: Cardinals Complete Game 5 Comeback, Advance to NLCS

Wow, what a crazy, improbable, unbelievable Division Series week we just witnessed. This is why baseball is pure magic. Whether or not you are a fan of the four teams left, you can’t deny that they all earned their way in. After four Game 5’s in four series, we finally got the NLCS and ALCS matchups finalized with a ridiculous game in Washington.

In the type of game that has become routine for the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals, they laughed at a 6-0 deficit in the third inning and slowly chipped away to cut the lead to 7-5 by the top of the ninth inning.

Luckily for Cardinals fans, this team is at it’s best when down to their last strike of the season. With the bases loaded, Daniel Descalso hit a game-tying single, then came around to score on a single by rookie shortstop Pete Kozma. The Cards held on to win 9-7 and advance to the NLCS, shocking the nation’s capitol and pastime’s fan base in the process…again.

My girlfriend is the biggest Cardinals fan in the world, and this is her reaction video to watching that top of the 9th inning. She had to record, turn off her phone, and watch later – I already knew what had happened but kept my best poker face on for the next few hours as we watched it back. She had no idea I was taping her reaction. But check out what pure, unadulterated love for a baseball team looks like:

That’s a good fan if I’ve ever seen one. Good luck to the Cardinals, Giants, Tigers and Yankees in the Championship Series, starting tonight in New York!

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @3u3d or LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

A Heartbroken Braves Fan

It’s safe to say that I will never experience a game with ranging emotions like the 2012 Wild Card game between the Cardinals and the Braves. I was so excited and ready to exorcise the demons from the Braves collapse from 2011. I was so excited to watch Chipper Jones playing another game at Turner Field. I was so excited to see a sold out ballpark chopping and chanting to my hearts delight. Instead, I ended up heartbroken.

Heartbroken that the Braves couldn’t get past the Cardinals again.

Heartbroken that the Braves record winning streak when Kris Medlen starts came to an end at twenty-three.

Heartbroken that the team that prided itself on defense (with the fewest errors in the National League) ended up committing three crucial throwing errors.

Heartbroken every time the Braves put runners on base and couldn’t get them home, twelve in all.

Heartbroken when the excitement from the Andrelton Simmons bunt got reversed to an out, but it was the right call.

Heartbroken that an infield fly call gone wrong is what we’ll remember this game for.

Heartbroken that Braves fans did the wrong thing in protesting the call by throwing debris on to the field and making us all look bad.

Heartbroken that it might actually be the right call, but called wrong.

Heartbroken that the Braves still had a chance with the bases loaded in the 8th and Michael Bourn just couldn’t come through.

Heartbroken that if the playoff system wasn’t in place, they would still be playing a game two in the NLDS.

Heartbroken that a 94-win season came down to one game where anything could happen (and did) and not a three-game series.

Heartbroken that the Braves have now lost four straight winner-take-all games at Turner Field.

Heartbroken that the Cardinals were chanting “Infield fly” in the clubhouse, after the game.

Heartbroken that the protest I believed might work, but deep down knew wouldn’t. Didn’t actually come to fruition to save the Braves.

Most of all, I’m heartbroken that I’ll never see my favorite player of all-time, Chipper Jones, play the game we both love so much.

Thank you for everything Chipper. Thank you for being a role model, the 1999 NL MVP, a World Series champion, an All-Star, and even the greatest tweeter of all-time, while doing it all with a smile on your face. You’ve made Braves Country so proud these past 19 seasons. Thank you for never leaving. Thank you for never quitting not from a torn ACL in 2010 and especially not from making the last out in your final game. I look forward to making the trip to Cooperstown in five years to see you be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. #10 is forever in my heart. You deserved better than going out in a game like this.

Now to just put my heart back together again for April 1st against the Phillies. This is why we chop, Braves fans. Nothing can ever keep us down.

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

#MapesFantasySpecial for September 20th

Wei-Yin Chen gave us his 2nd consecutive successful #MapesFantasySpecial last night, despite not getting a win.  Mets Matt Harvey had his start pushed back due to rain, so we’ll see how that plays out tonight.  I’m not sure he can get a win against Cole Hamels, but hopefully the peripherals and strikeouts will be there.  Here’s what I like for Thursday, September 20th that’s available in more than half of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.

Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie was featured on this week’s podcast as a 3UP player and I really like him at home against the White Sox.  Guthrie shut down the White Sox just a week and a half ago, tossing eight shutout innings.  Even more impressive, Guthrie has had three starts against the White Sox since coming to Kansas City, would you like to guess how many runs he’s given up in 23.2 innings?  That’s right, zero!  I’ll trust him one more time to get solid numbers, he’s owned in just 15% of fantasy leagues.

If You’re Desperate: Cardinals Jaime Garcia (49% owned) takes on the Astros in a solid matchup, but has been so terribly up and down since returning from injury he might no be worth the chance.  Brewers rookie Michael Fiers (45% owned) had 10 strikeouts, last time he faced the Pirates, but has a 5.40 ERA in two starts against Pittsburgh this year.  A’s Tommy Milone (44% owned) hasn’t been good on the road this season and takes on Detroit at Comerica.  No thanks.  Nationals Ross Detwiler (35% owned) has been good this season and could help your WHIP, but don’t expect a ton of strikeouts.  If you need strikeouts and can afford the ERA/WHIP hit, Francisco Liriano (35% owned) could get you some strikeouts, but got lit up last time out against KC.  Lastly, Giants Barry Zito (21% owned) got beat up by Colorado last time at home, 4ER over 5.1 IP, but is 6-2 in his career with a 2.59 ERA and 1.09 WHIP against the Rockies.  The Rockies do have trouble scoring runs on the road, except against Andrew Cashner of course.

If You’re Desperate Rankings: Fiers, Zito, Detwiler, Garcia, Liriano, Milone

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

Re-Awarding the MLB-Related ESPYs

Did you watch the ESPY’s yesterday? Yeah, me neither. Sorry, I have better things to do than watch a bunch of athletes dress nice and split hairs determining which player, coach, moment and team is just a tad bit more popular than the rest.

And thank god I didn’t have to see Brian Wilson and his more-attractive “date.”

Anyway, here at Three Up, Three Down, we watch a lot of sports. I mean…a LOT. But for all the football, basketball, hockey and soccer games we’ve taken in over the years, our baby is baseball.

So here’s my try at re-awarding every ESPY award that had baseball involved in it:

1. Best Male Athlete
MLB contender: Justin Verlander
ESPY winner: LeBron James

I love JV, but the voters got it right on this one. The other nominees for this award were Novak Djokovic and Aaron Rodgers. All four are incredible athletes and dominated their respective sports. But there is no human specimen on this planet more physically capable and immensely talented than LeBron. I truly believe LeBron could have been a power-hitting outfielder, Serena Williams clone (both in looks and tennis court presence…sorry, had to do it) or star tight end. I can’t say that any of the other three could make it in the other sports.

Jeremy’s winner: LeBron James

 

2. Best Championship Performance
MLB contender: David Freese
ESPY winner: LeBron James

It’s hard to argue against the voters again. But this category is definitely much more difficult. The other nominees were Eli Manning, Tony Stewart and Jonathan Quick. Because Manning had so many teammates making clutch plays around him, I’m going to back off on giving it to him. Stewart is a NASCAR driver; ’nuff said. Quick was absolutely incredible tending net for the Los Angeles Kings, but again it’s a sport where individual dominance seems more aided by your teammates than most. James and Freese both came through in hugely pressurized situation, but James did it against worse competition (by that I mean, he is so head and shoulders above other players that he SHOULD win, whereas Freese is a huge underdog). With that said, the St. Louis boy and his huge World Series performance get my vote. Perhaps the fact that the World Series occurred over 8 months ago played a role here?

Jeremy’s winner: David Freese

 

3. Best Record-Breaking Performance
MLB contender: Mariano Rivera
ESPY winner: Drew Brees

Okay, I get it. Brees threw for a billion yards. Very impressive, considering he had one of the most prolific offenses in recent memory around him. *Rolls eyes* Just kidding – I love Brees. But, there is no way he should have beaten out Rivera for this award. That being said, Coach K’s wins milestone is a very tough nomination (Lexi Thompson was the fourth and final nominee) to beat. Coaching is an underrated challenge, but nothing tops coming into a game in the ninth inning to secure a win in front of 40,000 people. Rivera should have gotten more respect here, and in turn, the ESPY.

Jeremy’s winner: Mariano Rivera

 

4. Best Game
MLB contender: Rangers vs. Cardinals, Game 6
ESPY winner: 49ers vs. Saints, NFC Divisional playoffs

I’m going to catch some heat for this. I will never forget game six. It was one of the most epic moments of my entire life as a sports fan, and I was just watching with a beer in hand and dogs at feet. I ran around the house yelling and cheering, because (as Jack Buck so aptly announced) I couldn’t believe what I just saw. BUT, I’m a 49ers fan, and our fan base was hurting for some success after finally returning to the playoffs. And with all the doubt placed on Alex Smith over the years, his throw at the end of that game made him a local hero – I’m sticking with the Red and Gold here. Please direct all hate mail to 3u3dbaseball@gmail.com.

Jeremy’s winner: 49ers vs. Saints, NFC Divisional playoffs

 

5. Best Moment
MLB contenders: Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit OR MLB season ends with dramatic final night
ESPY winner: Tebow to Thomas, sudden death TD

This is a freakin’ travesty. There’s no other way to put it. And it just makes me hate Tim Tebow. I know it’s not Tebow’s fault that football is now more popular than baseball in our country, but you’ve got to be kidding me. Derek Jeter is one of the all-time legendary athletes, not just baseball players, in American sports history. Achieving his 3,000th hit solidified his already-being-cleared-and-buffed spot in Cooperstown. Not okay, voters. Not okay. Oh, and Bubba Watson was another nominee or whatever.

Jeremy’s winner: Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit

 

6. Best Comeback Athlete
MLB contender: Johan Santana
ESPY winner: Matthew Stafford

What? Seriously? Football rules again. The other two nominees didn’t stand a chance (Maria Sharapova and Sidney Crosby – wow, there really was a shortage of good comeback stories, huh?), but Santana got snubbed. Both players came back from injury to have big seasons, but Stafford had the difficult role of dropping back and throwing a football in the general vicinity of Calvin Johnson. Santana had his arm ripped apart, repaired and stitched up. Upon returning, he no-hit one of the best offenses in baseball. Is there really an argument here?

Jeremy’s winner: Johan Santana

 

7. Best MLB Player
ESPY winner: Josh Hamilton

This is the Big Kahuna. I’m sure it was difficult enough to narrow this category down to five guys, but the committee went with Hamilton, Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, Ryan Braun and Justin Verlander. I’m hard pressed to say they were wrong, as much as my Dodger blue-bleedin’ heart wants to. Hamilton has been the best player in baseball at various points of the last few seasons. The only argument I feel could be legitimately made if we narrow it all the way down, is for Verlander. All of the other guys have great cases, but JV won the Cy Young AND MVP. It’s hard to top that. I’m okay with the selection of Hamilton though. Kid deserves all the respect in the world.

Jeremy’s winner: Josh Hamilton

 

8. Best Male College Athlete
NCAAB contender: Mike Zunino, Florida
ESPY winner: Robert Griffin III

It’s laughable that they even included Zunino and fellow nominee Jack Connolly (Minnesota-Duluth hockey player) in this category. Nobody watches college baseball OR hockey, so it was just to look like they cared. Well played, ESPN. The real competition was between Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Anthony Davis. Though I could have seen the unibrow or first overall NFL draft selection take it home, I’m not the least bit surprised it was Griffin III. He won the Heisman Trophy, the most prolific of college athletic awards, and led a team far less talented than Stanford football or Kentucky basketball to a huge season.

Jeremy’s winner: Robert Griffin III

 

9. Best Team of the Year
MLB contender: St. Louis Cardinals
ESPY winner: Miami Heat

The Cardinals were an awesome, incredible, inspiring team in 2011. Unfortunately, the voters got it right again. If this was Best Comeback or Best Cinderella Story or Most Likeable Team to Win a 2011 Championship, the Cards would likely win. But they had no chance in a category including the following nominees: Alabama football, Baylor women’s basketball, Kentucky men’s basketball, Los Angeles Kings, Miami Heat, and New York Giants. The real contenders here were Kentucky, the Heat and the Giants. But I think voters recognized that Kentucky can’t compete with the other two at the college level, and that if you take into account the consistency of dominance over the course of a season – it was always going to be the Heat. As it should have been.

Jeremy’s winner: Miami Heat

 

Don’t forget to comment below if you disagree! Give me your winners and what you think of the ESPY’s. Follow Three Up, Three Down @3u3d and LIKE us on Facebook.

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Weekend Watch! Interleague Style Part Two!

It’s time for another round of interleague play!  These match-ups aren’t as exotic as the last “Weekend Watch” with interleague play involved, but it doesn’t mean that cross-divisional series aren’t as fun.  Here’s what I’m looking forward to watching this weekend as I sneak the MLB At-Bat app on while tailgating at the Belmont Stakes.

6) Indians at Cardinals

Battle of the two 2nd place teams in the Central where both are trying to get back to the 1st place perch they had just recently.  The injury bug continues to hit St. Louis as Jaime Garcia finds himself joining teammates Jon Jay, Skip Schumaker, and Lance Berkman on the disabled list.  The Indians, on the other hand, seem to be the least talked about “good” team in the Majors.  They keep plugging away without doing anything too special, they sit 8th in the AL in batting average and a dismal 2nd to last in ERA, but there they are at 30-26, just a game out of 1st place.  Jason Kipnis has been great for Cleveland in his sophomore season leading the team in home runs (9) and stolen bases (14).

2D) Blue Jays and Braves

This is a series as a Braves fan that I wish I could go down to Turner Field and attend in person.  Friday night, the Braves are retiring the great John Smoltz’s number (more on that in a blog tomorrow) and on Saturday is the greatest promotion the team has ever done, Sid Bream Slide Bobblehead Day!  Seriously, this thing is awesome and are already being offered on eBay from $55-75.  Both the Jays and Braves are playing in tightly contested races in their East divisions.  As I type this the AL East is separated by just four games.  The NL East is only a game and a half difference between 1st place and 4th place.  Every team in those two divsions is .500 or better except for the Phillies, who saw that coming?   No wonder why FOUR East interleague series make the “Weekend Watch” this week.

2C) Nationals at Red Sox

1st place vs. last place gets 3rd place here, that’s the average.  Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez have been wunderkinds in the National League, but how will they do on the road against a quality offense in Boston.  Gonzalez’s track record against the Sox while he was in Oakland was not very good as he has a 5.79 ERA over 28 innings in his career.  Red Sox Kevin Youkilis also feasts on Gonzalez pitching going 6 for 11 in his career.  I’m also intrigued to see Daisuke Matsuzaka’s return on Saturday to the Red Sox after recovering from Tommy John surgery.  If he can give Boston anything after they had to send down Daniel Bard to AAA it’d be a great plus.

2B) Mets at Yankees

The Subway Series means something!  The Yankees have been on fire winning 10 of their last 13 games going into Thursday night’s game with the Rays.  The Mets are still reveling in the teams first no-hitter by Johan Santana last Friday night and he’ll start the opener against Huroki Kuroda.  The no-hitter has been an extra spring in the step of Mets fans.  I live in Connecticut, where you get a mixture of Yankees, Mets, and Red Sox fans.  I’ve seen more Mets hats and jerseys in the past week than I had the entire season before Santana’s no-no.  Wonder if some will actually try to infiltrate the Bronx this weekend.  Derek Jeter thrives against his cross-town rivals hitting .385, the best batting average he has against any team he has 40 at-bats against.

2A) Rays at Marlins

The Battle for Florida means something!  I don’t expect a lot of runs this weekend between these two as the pitching matchups are pretty solid and Marlins Park has played towards the pitcher so far.  I really want to see if Matt Moore can continue his recent success as he has a 2.55 ERA over his last three starts compared to a 7.20 ERA his three starts before that.  Maybe he can still salvage my AL Rookie of the Year pick.  Mike Trout you say?  Yeah, I’m doomed.  James Shields vs. Anibal Sanchez on Sunday is an underrated pitchers special.

1) Rangers at Giants

Can’t be yelled at for East Coast bias if I put the Rangers and Giants in the top spot!  Despite Tim Lincecum’s worst efforts the Giants are the hottest team in the National League winning 8 of their last 10 games.  The Rangers have only won one game in each series against the Mariners, Angels, and Athletics coming into this series.  Roy Oswalt can’t get up to the Majors fast enough it seems as Derek Holland now joins Neftali Feliz on the DL from the rotation.  Alexi Ogando will come out of the bullpen to make the start in place of Holland.  Even better is that this could be a potential World Series match-up down the road.

Mapes Fantasy Special

Another great week for the Mapes Fantasy Special.  I’m now 10-2 since moving the Mapes Fantasy Special over to the Weekend Watch.  I’ll slow clap for myself.  Here are this weeks picks, remember these pitchers must be available in 50% or more of Yahoo! fantasy baseball leagues.

6/8 Gavin Floyd (32% owned) vs. Astros, Floyd has been absolutely terrible lately, but if he can’t do it at home against the Astros I have no hope for him.  I wish I could just quit you Gavin.

6/9 Scott Diamond (22% owned) vs. Cubs, Diamond has been a find in the rough for the Twins, sorry I couldn’t resist, he’s been stellar going 4-1 with a 1.89 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP.  Even better are his 4 walks in 38.2 innings this season.  Diamond faces the Cubs who have drawn the 4th least walks in the Majors this season, bodes well for him if they put in in play at Target Field.

6/10 Andy Pettitte (49% owned) vs. Mets, I have no explanation for what Pettitte is doing right now, so I’m just gonna enjoy the ride before he gets over 50% owned.

What are you looking forward to this weekend?  Who do you like in fantasy?  Tweet me using #MapesFantasySpecial

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

Episode 14 Is Extremely Pristine

Three Up, Three Down comes back this week to recap the big news in baseball.   We hit the DL and also attack ‘Mapes Too Early Awards’.  It also wouldn’t be a “Three Up, Three Down” without our 3U3D Fantasy segment, which continues to provide you with some very good picks.  Sit down, grab your favorite beer, and take a listen to this week’s episode. Thanks for listening!!

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to the podcast!

or use this link to download on iTunes

http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=508049520

Twitter: @3U3D
Facebook: Three Up, Three Down

Enjoy!

Chowin’ Down: More Bacon!

If you don’t remember the bacon-y, Jeff Francoeur-y goodness from a few weeks ago, you really missed out. And while I though I had my fill of baseball bacon this season, I stand corrected. Yesterday, I went to Busch Stadium and chowed down on another bacon-wrapped morsel.

This time, it was a ballpark frank, wrapped in bacon, covered in whatever toppings I wanted. I went with BBQ sauce, re-fried beans and french fried onions. Other options included sauerkraut, grilled onions and jalapenos.

It was absolutely DELICIOUS. The flaky bun was just the beginning, but the actual wiener itself was delicious (shut up, I know what I said). The bacon was perfectly cooked and expertly wrapped. The onions complemented it perfectly, though they skimped on the sauce a bit. The beans were unnecessary but added a nice touch.

All in all, it was a good meal. And considering it cost about the same amount of money as a normal dog at any park, I was very happy with my decision.

I don’t know if the bacon-wrapped ball park dog is THE thing to get at Busch Stadium, but I’d highly recommend it if you visit!

 

– Jeremy (@Jamblinman)

 

The Way Too Early MLB Awards

May is upon us!  Let’s hand out the awards if the MLB season was only one month long.  Thankfully, it’s not.  All stats are as of May 2nd.

American League Rookie of the Year

Yu Darvish, Rangers

I strongly dislike the rule that allows Japanese players to be eligible for Rookie of the Year, but I digress.  Darvish has been nothing short of phenomenal after a rough first start against the Mariners.  Darvish completed April 4-0 with a 2.18 ERA.  Darvish also is not doing this against weak competion, three of his five starts have come at Detroit, vs. New York, and at Toronto.  This is his award to lose.  There are other rookies that have had a great start including the Mariners Jesus Montero (.294 BA, 4HR), Athletics Yeonis Cespedes (5HR, 20 RBI, 4SB) and don’t sleep on call-ups A’s Jarrod Parker and Angels Mike Trout to get themselves into the race.

National League Rookie of the Year

Lance Lynn, Cardinals

You’d be shocked if I told you that there was a rookie that had been even more impressive than Yu Darvish.  However, in the National League Cardinals Lance Lynn has been everything and more for St. Louis.  Thrust into the rotation with Chris Carpenter’s injury, Lynn finished April 4-0 with a scant 1.33 ERA.  Lynn also has a solid 24/6 K/BB ratio.  Lynn is 4th in the NL in ERA and 2nd in WHIP.  Those stats are among all players, not just rookies.  Reds Zack Cozart and Diamondbacks Wade Miley are on the radar after good April’s, but the real contender is if Bryce Harper can be impressive enough to wrestle the award away from Lance Lynn.

American League Cy Young

Jake Peavy, White Sox

Idon’t expect Peavy to be the AL Cy Young winner when the season is over, but at this moment he has been the most impressive pitcher in the American League.  Peavy leads the league in ERA (1.67), WHIP (0.69) and complete games (2).  He’s erased the questions marks that came into the season and looks back to his prime days in San Diego where he won the 2007 NL Cy Young.  There is no shortage of contenders for this prize.  Mariners Felix Hernandez (1st in win probabilty added and strikeouts), Angels Jered Weaver (3-0, 2.02 ERA) and defending champion Tigers Justin Verlander (2nd in WHIP, 4th in strikeouts), and the adformentioned Yu Darvish lurking.

National League Cy Young

Stephen Strasburg, Nationals

This was the closest call so far.  Matt Cain has been great for the Giants leading the NL in WHIP (0.68) and has a 2.35 ERA, but the 1-2 record unfortunately is enough of a detractor for me.  Journeymen pitchers DBacks Joe Saunders, Cardinals Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook, and Dodgers Ted Lilly have far exceeded expectations thus far.  However, the award right now would go to Stephen Strasburg.  Strasburg has been the anchor of the best starting rotation in the NL supporting a 1.13 ERA and 0.88 WHIP, while sporting a 9.6 K/9 ratio.  Even more impressive is Strasburg has yet to allow a home run this year.  Strasburg is in no way a sure thing to win this as his innings limit might let others come up to his level, especially Roy Halladay who may end up throwing 70 more quality innings than Strasburg.

American League MVP

Josh Hamilton, Rangers

A tight four-way race right now for the AL MVP between Hamilton, Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, and Paul Konerko.  Hamilton gets the leg up for leading in what I think is one of the most important statistics, OPS at 1.182.  Hamilton also leads the AL in home runs, runs batted in, total bases, while maintaining .395 batting average good for 2nd in the AL.  The question as always with Hamilton is his health, but if he can get in 130+ games like he did in his 2010 MVP season.  Hamilton is well on his way to joining Juan Gonzalez as Texas Rangers with multiple MVP’s.  Don’t let Hamilton’s domination let you sleep on the older guys.  Derek Jeter is still hitting .400 into May and leads the AL in OBP (.440) at 37 years old.  David Ortiz at age 36, is 2nd in the AL in OBP, slugging, hits, while hitting .386.  Paul Konerko, also 36 years old, is the White Sox offense and is just a notch behind the other three in most statistical categories, but is doing it all with a weaker offense around him.  This should be an exciting race all season.

National League MVP

Matt Kemp, Dodgers

I’ll end it with the easiest of the easy calls.  Kemp has been otherworldly thus far for the Dodgers.  Should I start with the .409 batting average or the .864 slugging percentage, or the 1.349 OPS, or the 12 home runs, or possibly the 76 total bases?  Those are all categories that Kemp not just leads in, but is blowing away the rest of the competition.  Kemp has the Dodgers sitting in 1st place as we speak, which might be the most impressive out of everything.  Matt Kemp is on pace for a season for the ages.

Who do you think should be taking home the hardware after April?

-Bryan Mapes