Tagged: Chipper Jones

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)

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The 3U3D Awards: NL MVP Edition

The NL MVP race is possibly the most wide-open of all the awards with three or four players that have a case to be tops in the National League. Here’s how we filled out our ballots at 3U3D:

Final Points

Here are our thoughts on NL MVP:

Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman): Numbers four through 10 don’t really matter all that much; this is a three-horse race. Even though the Pirates and Brewers both fell short in their postseason quests, you can’t discount the seasons each team’s star player had. But to out-gallop Posey, who has been the catalyst behind the Giants’ runaway division title, is much too difficult. That being said, I like Posey to take this award, as his team ran away with the NL West, and the rest of the field barely snuck into the playoffs or missed altogether. If the Brewers had made the postseason, Braun would have won. If the Pirates had even managed a slightly better August and September, I’d give it to McCutchen. But as it stands now, there is no more important player to one single team than Posey.

Angelo Fileccia (@GODF_TH_R): Buster Posey had the best 2nd half of any player in the majors and led the Giants to an NL West championship. Buster’s post-all-star numbers (.389/.462/.644) propelled him to an NL batting title (.336). Posey becomes the 2nd catcher in 70 years to win a batting title (Joe Mauer) and the first NL catcher in 100 years to win the on-base percentage stat.

Brian Boynton (@GingaBeard_Man): Ryan Braun proved this season that he may actually have been telling the truth about his alleged steroid use. His power numbers are better this year: Home Runs 41 to 33, RBI 112 to 111, and he did this without Prince Fielder being in the lineup. Buster Posey has been a stable force behind the plate and at it. He lead his pitching staff to the fifth best ERA in the NL. He played in 147 games hitting .337 with 24 home runs. McCutchen was almost able to lead the Pirates to their first winning season in 20 years. He set career highs in batting average (.327), Home Runs (31), and RBI (96). Was there a bigger surprise this season other than R.A. Dickey? The knuckleballer beasted up this season finishing with 20 wins for the New York Mets while having a 2.73 ERA. He set career highs in almost every statistical category. Not bad for a 37 year old.

Kurt Peter (@FalconKP): Looking at the NL MVP selection, people may still be hung up on this summer’s PED scandal, but Ryan Braun has been tearing the cover off of the ball. He leads the league in HRs, total bases, slugging, and OPS. He is in the Top 5 in runs, hits, OBP, and average, while being 9th in steals. Only he and Mike Trout have a 30/30 season and has only the 11th 40/30 season in Major League history. It’s no question: Ryan Braun is the NL MVP.

Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes): Andrew McCutchen was atop my rankings for the previous three months and I thought that if he got the Pirates to the playoffs he was a lock. If the Pirates finished above .500, he was going to have a good chance. Instead, the Pirates fell below the .500 mark again and I seriously debated dropping him to 4th, but his overall offensive numbers (1st in offensive WAR) saved him. This opened the door for Buster Posey and Ryan Braun to have a tight 1-2 battle for me. Braun’s raw numbers are better and is the better power-speed combo, but Posey led the NL in OPS+ which takes into account park factor and opponent that was the difference to me. I was surprised to see Braves Michael Bourn and Craig Kimbrel only on my ballot as Bourn provided a spark atop the Atlanta lineup and Kimbrel had arguably the most dominant season by a closer striking out more than half the batters he faced. I wish I had room for Chipper Jones, Jason Heyward, and Martin Prado. Prado did anything and everything for the Braves this year. I’m also sad that I had no room for one of my favorites Giancarlo Stanton, if he was healthy the whole season, things might have been different for Miami.

Congrats to Giants Buster Posey on winning the 3U3D NL MVP!

Who’s on your NL MVP ballot? Let us know in the comments or if you want to debate our ballot, hit us up on Twitter!

Power Ranking Every MLB Team’s Playoff Hash Tag

Something new is happening in MLB this year. Instead of your typical four-team format in each league, we’ve added an extra Wild Card team to make five in each league and ten total. Something else new to life in general is the popularity of social media, specifically Twitter.

Twitter and baseball go together like pancakes and syrup. Or Brad Pitt and goatees. Bobby V and the Red S– oh…wait. Too soon?

And now each team has their own designated hash tag on Twitter to make sure their October quests get trending among the fan base. Some teams are handed easy ones (i.e. the Colorado Rockies’ “Rocktober”). Some have to stretch for it (i.e. the Milwaukee Brewers’ potential “OctoBrewfest”).

So without further adieu, here is the Three Up, Three Down power ranking of every MLB team’s playoff hash tag:

10. San Francisco Giants – #OrangeOctober

I don’t care if anyone calls me biased for this one. My goodness, this is a bland, boring, unoriginal hash tag. The Giants have the benefit of winning the World Series two years ago, so they don’t have to try to impress the Twittersphere anymore. But making your pump-up hash tag for the playoffs simply #OrangeOctober is a pretty big cop out. First of all, yes, they wear orange. Yes, the O’s roll off the tongue together nicely. But of course October is orange. Come on, are we all too old to have forgotten about Halloween? That is a straight up robbery of America’s sugariest holiday.

9. Texas Rangers – #TexasLegends

What? Are the Rangers implying that they, themselves, are legendary? Because unless choking away two straight World Series titles and then collapsing under the pressure of a pennant race in 2012 is considered “legendary,” I’m missing something. I know that everything, including egos, can be bigger in Texas but this is just ridiculous. Besides, it’s not a cool hash tag. I thought it was a minor league affiliate of the Rangers. Geez, that was harsh. Sorry, Brian!

8. Detroit Tigers – #EveryGameCounts

Yes, yes it does. And the Tigers really should have had a couple week’s worth of games that actually didn’t matter. But they brought it down to the bitter end anyway. Detroit loses points for dominating their Twitter timeline with #TripleCrown. I understand why, as the achievement should be celebrated heavily. But the ultimate goal is to win the World Series and I’m sure Miguel Cabrera would gladly trade his Triple Crown for a ring.

7. New York Yankees – #27AndCounting

You can’t really argue this hash tag. The Yankees can pretty much hash tag whatever they want and get a free pass because they are the Yankees. It doesn’t make sense and it is incredibly frustrating, but it’s true. That being said, in terms of pure originality, the guy or gal in charge of the team’s account is clearly one of those people who enjoys time spent over a term paper in the library on a Friday night.

6. Washington Nationals – #Natitude

Normally, I’d rank this a bit higher. Unfortunately, the Nationals have been freakin’ bombarding us Twits with that hash tag since Opening Day and frankly…we’re tired of it. And usually it was in all caps. Why are they yelling? It’s clever and it accurately portrays the way the team plays, but after a while you just want to yell “SHUT UP!” I think the Nats could have geared their very important hash tag playoff campaign towards something with the color red or involving America, since they are in the nation’s capitol. #Natitude just leaves a lot to be desired.

5. Cincinnati Reds – #RedsOctober

Boring? Sure. Bland? Definitely. Unoriginal? Cha. But there are a couple of reasons that the #RedsOctober hash tag cracks the top five for me. First of all, the Reds are a funky, old-school, boring team. They always have been. The franchise has been around since the world started spinning (sorry – in my mind, that’s the day that baseball officially was born…yeah, we’re nerds) and they’ve been very successful over that time span. The Reds seem like the most focused, confident team in the playoffs right now, just like their hash tag. And second, I like the vague reference to The Hunt for Red October.

4. St. Louis Cardinals – #12In12

It’s like when you see the clock on 11:11 and yell “MAKE A WISH!” Well, the Cardinals’ wish came true in 2011, and they are trying to repeat in 2012. I’m convinced that they purposely waited until 2011 to win their 11th world title, just so they could troll the crap out of Twitterville for years to come with an annoyingly clever hash tag like #12In12, #13In13, and so on. Of course to continue the trend of this type of hash tag, the Cardinals will have to make another crazy run. Don’t put it past them.

3. Baltimore Orioles – #BUCKleUp

Hah! HAHA! GET IT?! Because their manager’s name is BUCK Showalter?!?! I promise I’m not even mocking them – I actually laughed out loud when I first saw that hash tag. It’s caught fire among Baltimore fans, as it should. Not only does it emphasize one of the most important individuals to the team, but it acknowledges that it’s going to be a bumpy ride. If the O’s are going to do the improbable and win the World Series in 2012, it’s going to be a panic-filled roller coaster ride just like their regular season was.

2. Atlanta Braves – #OctoberIsWhyWeChop (#Choptober for short)

The Braves probably would have slid down the list a little bit for sheer character volume if they didn’t have that cute little #Choptober nickname to fall back on. Regardless of how possibly offensive the whole chopping deal is, it has become a symbol of unity and hope for a dedicated Braves fan base. They chop for everything and everyone, and what better reason than for a World Series ring in Chipper Jones’ final season? Oh, and “Choptober” sounds like “October” if you say it really fast. Clever points!

1. Oakland A’s – #OctoBERNIE

This is not only the best hash tag on the list, but might be the greatest hash tag ever created in the history of the Twitter world…ever…of all time. If you don’t know yet what the “Bernie” is, then grab your nearest YouTube and type it in. You’ll find Weekend at Bernie clips, some pretty bad, hilarious hip-hop videos and a lot of green and gold crazies in the right field bleachers. The A’s have reinvigorated the Bernie movement and reinvented the October hash tag, all by simply adding an “N-I-E” to the end. There is no denying the magic that the world’s easiest, laziest dance move has brought to MLB’s best story in 2012.

Comment below if you think this order is just whack! And don’t forget to vote for your favorite postseason team hash tag in the poll below. If you like what you read, follow @3u3d on Twitter and like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Derek Jeter and the 5 Players We Can’t Imagine in Another Jersey

Imagine my poor blood pressure this morning when I woke up to a headline like THIS today.

Something like what Derek Jeter is alluding to would be disastrous if it actually came to fruition. I’m no Yankee fan by any measure, but I truly respect Jeter and have looked up to him since I was a little kid. And I just can’t imagine him wearing anything besides the pinstripes.

None of that Joe Montana-to-the-Chiefs, desperate-to-keep-playing, end of the career crap from Jeter, please.

Sure, the unthinkable has been done before – Ken Griffey, Jr. moved to Cincinnati from Seattle even though he looked like a super hero in the silver and teal. Heck, we had one happen this past off-season when Albert Pujols jumped ship to Anaheim, despite looking so damn good in Cardinal red.

But the super fan in me would like to keep that kind of olé B.S. to a minimum. I don’t know what it is…the players themselves, the jersey/color combo of the teams they represent, or just the nostalgia of a childhood long-gone (okay, I’m not that old), but I identify Jeter and the rest of this list as players who I could never, ever see in a different jersey:

*Disclaimer: Mariano Rivera and Chipper Jones not included because they are guaranteed to stay a Yankee and Brave, respectively, for the remainder of their Hall of Fame careers*

1. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees

Let’s start with the Captain himself. Jeter has played all 18 seasons as the shortstop of the Yankees, number two plastered on his back. Needless to say, Mr. November will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and the next great Yankee to have his number retired. There is no more iconic jersey in sports than those of the Yanks, and even imagining Jeter in an Angels, Cubs, Red Sox (god forbid) or any other jersey is painful.

2. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

I know he’s only been around a few years, but damn if Posey hasn’t made himself a celebrity in San Francisco at Usain Bolt-esque speed. There is no way the team will let this guy walk away as long as he’s physically able to play the game. It’s really hard to predict this early, but we could be seeing the next great “one-team” lifer in Posey, who should be representing that awful orange and black for another decade and a half.

3. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – if Mariners GM Jack Zdurineck trades Felix, he should not only be fired, but tarred, feathered and forced to watch Jack and Jill on loop. Hernandez is the King of Seattle and it should stay that way forever. I dig the silver and teal uni’s up there in the Pacific Northwest, and Hernandez wears it best. Plus, he wants to stay a Seattle Mariner. I’m sure Brian Cashman has visions, but I just can’t see this guy in Yankee garb.

4. Todd Helton, Colorado Rockies

When I say Rockies, you say Helton! “ROCKIES!” “HELTON!” Thank you. But seriously, Helton is about as synonymous with Colorado baseball as macaroni is with cheese. He’s played all 16 years of his career manning first base at Coors Field, and will most definitely have his number retired there whenever he hangs up the spikes. Todd Helton in anything but purple would be straight criminal.

5. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals

I know a few Cardinals fans who would actually sob uncontrollably if Yadi ever slips on another team’s jersey. And they should, because it would arguably be more devastating than the loss of Pujols to that devoted fan base. Whereas Pujols was the power and glam of the team, Molina is the heart, soul, lungs and kidney of the franchise. I know NL catchers have a short shelf life, but just trying to picture him as a Dodger or Phillie makes me want to elbow drop a baby penguin.

6. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

Last, but certainly not least, we have arguably the best all-around player in the National League. I don’t know what it is with him and that black and gold, but McCutchen just looks so right in a Pirates uniform. Maybe it’s the dreads, or the blindingly white smile, or the elegant physique over which the Pirates’ jersey falls. No matter, McCutchen can never go play for the Indians or Orioles or anyone else. He needs to be in Pittsburgh for life.

Honorable Mentions: Matt Kemp (Dodgers), Mike Trout (Angels), David Price (Rays)

Comment below if you think someone else should be considered for this list! And don’t forget to VOTE in the poll:

If you like what you see, you can follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Projecting the NL All-Star Roster

Yesterday, I gave you my projected A.L. All-Star roster that can be found down below this post. Today with the final voting update being released for the National League, let’s see if I can figure out what the N.L. roster will look like. I’m really glad that Tony LaRussa retired and has a ton of time on his hands to figure out the roster, because this thing is pretty tough. Especially trying to put a Padres representative on the team.

Catcher

Starter: Buster Posey, Giants

Reserves: Yadier Molina, Cardinals and Carlos Ruiz, Phillies

This will be a close battle all the way to the end as Molina may still end up starting the game. Posey could be in danger of not making the game if not named the starter as Molina and Ruiz are the two clear-cut top catchers this season. LaRussa could decide that two catchers are enough and go with an extra back-up somewhere else.

First Base

Starter: Joey Votto, Reds

Reserve: Martin Prado, Braves

This is where I had to get creative. No offensive position has gone without a backup since Derrek Lee in 2005 for the N.L. In that game, Morgan Ensberg who was designated as a 3B moved over to replace Lee in the game. In 2002, Alfonso Soriano was the only 2B for the American League and Omar Vizquel switched over from SS to play 2B. There is precedent to not have a backup 1B and I don’t think there should be. The only one I can make a case for is the Diamondbacks Paul Goldschmidt, but it would be bad if he becomes Arizona’s lone representative over a deserving Wade Miley. Prado is a versatile player that plays outfield, third base, and first base for the Braves. He’s a deserving All-Star, but N.L. outfield is so deep (we’ll get to that soon) that this is a way to get Prado on the team. I’m still figuring out why there are 873,526 wasted votes on Ryan Howard who hasn’t played this season.

Second Base

Starter: Dan Uggla, Braves

Reserve: Jose Altuve, Astros

Uggla has fallen off hitting just .179 in the month of June, but Braves fans have continued to vote for him. He has a healthy lead on Brandon Phillips going into the final stage of voting. Altuve has been a find for the Astros hitting over .300 and being 5th in the league in hits. Phillips gets bumped to the Final Vote as the only infielder represented.

Shortstop

Starter: Rafael Furcal, Cardinals

Reserve: Starlin Castro, Cubs

The injury woes of Troy Tulowitzki will allow Furcal to make his 3rd All-Star team in 13 seasons and it’s deserved. Furcal looked done after last season, but has bounced back to hit .287 and be solid atop the Cardinals lineup. Castro is the Cubs lone representative for the 2nd straight year. Pretty impressive for a 22 year-old.

Third Base

Starter: David Wright, Mets

Reserves: Chipper Jones, Braves and David Freese, Cardinals

I’ve made it clear previously that I think that Chipper Jones should be starting the All-Star Game in his final season. Here’s my solution. The National League will need a designated hitter, so who better than Chipper Jones? He could have his moment like Cal Ripken did in 2001 and David Wright still gets to start at 3B like he deserves. I’m sure Chipper’s knees would also appreciate not having to play the field. Freese has been solid for the Cardinals as he’s top 10 in the league in HR’s and RBI. I’m sure LaRussa will bring him along after his postseason heroics in 2011.

Outfield

Starters: Matt Kemp, Dodgers, Carlos Beltran, Cardinals, and Ryan Braun, Brewers

Reserves: Melky Cabrera, Giants, Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies, Andrew McCutchen, Pirates, Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins and Andre Ethier, Dodgers

This is by far the deepest position in all of the Majors. Not making the team includes Michael Bourn, Matt Holliday and Hunter Pence who have all been fantastic. Mike Trout was able to make my A.L. squad, but the deepness at the position here blocks Bryce Harper from making the initial squad at 19 years old. There is still a tight battle for the final starting spot between Braun and Cabrera, but both will make the team. Gonzalez and Stanton are being snubbed by voters, but will be the solo representatives for the Rockies and Marlins respectively. Ethier sneaks in the final outfield spot as he’s helped keep the Dodgers afloat in Matt Kemp’s absence. Kemp’s injury will hopefully open up an extra spot for Bourn, Holliday, or Pence.

Starting Pitcher

Starter: R.A. Dickey, Mets

Reserves: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals, Matt Cain, Giants, Gio Gonzalez, Nationals, Wade Miley, Diamondbacks, Johnny Cueto, Reds, James McDonald, Pirates, Lance Lynn, Cardinals, Chris Capuano, Dodgers, and Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

The battle to be the starting pitcher couldn’t be any closer between Dickey, Strasburg, and Cain. I just think that Dickey is such a wonderful story that it would be amazing to have him start the game, so I gave him the edge. My American League roster had eight starters, but there are so many options in the N.L. that I upped it to ten. Even that wasn’t enough as Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke get snubbed. I believe that LaRussa will err on the side of the Cardinals and take Lance Lynn for the last pitching spot. Wade Miley is rightfully Arizona’s only representative.

Relief Pitcher

Reserves: Craig Kimbrel, Braves, Aroldis Chapman, Reds, and Huston Street, Padres

Kimbrel has been lights out all season. Chapman had been perfect up until recently, but they are the two fireballers that the senior circuit needs to close out the game. Street goes to the game because I couldn’t figure out another way to get a Padre on the roster. I couldn’t have Carlos Quentin take a spot from one of the outfielders, Chase Headley over David Freese, or have Yonder Alonso be the back-up 1B. Street missed time with an injury, but has a 1.50 ERA and 0.78 ERA when healthy this season.

Final Vote

Michael Bourn, Braves, Cole Hamels, Phillies, Brandon Phillips, Reds, Matt Holliday, Cardinals, and Bryce Harper, Nationals

When I originally wrote out my roster Harper making the Final Vote didn’t even cross my mind. Then I had an epiphany, there is no way MLB doesn’t put Harper in, just to stir up some excitement for it. There are great voting fan bases represented in this final vote and I sadly couldn’t put in Zack Greinke. Greinke and Hamels will hopefully make the team on the “pitcher pitching Sunday” rule. Bourn has been wonderful leading off the Braves lineup and is among the league leaders in WAR. Brandon Phillips might make the All-Star game as a starter still, but him being in the Final Vote let’s him use his social media skills to the fullest.

Team Breakdown

Cardinals-5

Dodgers and Braves-4

Giants and Reds-3

Mets, Nationals, and Pirates-2

Diamondbacks, Padres, Rockies, Cubs, Brewers, Astros, Phillies, and Marlins-1

Unlike the American League, I feel like there are a ton of snubs on my National League team. Joel Hanrahan, Tyler Clippard, Kenley Jansen, Zack Greinke, Hunter Pence, Ryan Vogelsong, and Jed Lowrie just to name a few. Who would make your National League roster? Let me know in the comments!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

The “Perfect” National League All-Star Ballot

Unlike the American League ballot, the National League isn’t being dominated by any one team. Giants fans have rallied together though as the 2nd ballot release had Buster Posey pass Yadier Molina at catcher and Pablo Sandoval go from 4th to 2nd at third base. I even saw a #VoteBelt hashtag on Twitter last night. I get voting for your favorite team, but if you vote for Brandon Belt for the All-Star team, you don’t deserve to vote for the President of the United States in November. Can we make that happen?

As I did with the American League, I will break this up into my pick, who’s acceptable to vote for, and players that are currently placing that you probably shouldn’t be throwing support to.

Catcher

Mapes Pick: Carlos Ruiz, Phillies

Bold statement alert: My top five catchers in the NL, Ruiz, Buster Posey, Yadier Molina, A.J. Ellis, and Jonathan Lucroy (before he got hurt) deserve to start the All-Star Game over any catcher in the American League. I can’t discourage you to not vote for any of them, but I’m giving my edge to Chooch. The counting numbers between Posey, Molina, and Ruiz are all tight. Ruiz has the advantage in average and OPS on the other two and has been the Phillies offense with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard out.

I love Brian McCann, he’s one of my favorite players and he’s a consistent All-Star caliber player, but in 2012 his numbers don’t stack up. I can’t argue against voting for anyone else. Unfortunately, I have to add Lucroy to the don’t vote list due to his injury, but he’s been great this year.

Enjoy this video from Gordon Mack of the MLB Fan Cave is support of Chooch for the All-Star Game.

Acceptable to Vote For: Buster Posey, Giants, Yadier Molina, Cardinals, and A.J. Ellis, Dodgers

Please Stop Voting For: Brian McCann, Braves and Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers

First Base

Mapes Pick: Joey Votto, Reds

He was my N.L. MVP pick at the start of June and there is no doubt he is the best first baseman in the National League. Fans are easily getting this one right as Votto has 1.25 million more votes than 2nd place Lance Berkman.

Acceptable to Vote For: No one else

Please Stop Voting For: Everyone else

Second Base

Mapes Pick: Dan Uggla, Braves

This pick is BARELY over Jose Altuve of the Astros. They’re two different players so they’re hard to compare, but I think Uggla’s numbers are slightly better and he’s been more important to a better team. Altuve deserves to make the team as a reserve over well known names like Brandon Phillips and Rickie Weeks and will more than likely be Houston’s lone representative in K.C. I can’t go as far as saying don’t vote for Phillips and Omar Infante, but they haven’t been nearly as good as the first two. Rickie Weeks is hitting .166 this season and is 5th in the voting. What a waste of 642,184 votes.

Acceptable to Vote For: Jose Altuve, Astros

Please Stop Voting For: Rickie Weeks, Brewers

Shortstop

Mapes Pick: Starlin Castro, Cubs

I might be penalizing Troy Tulowitzki too much for missing the last two weeks with an injury, but it’s not as if Castro hasn’t earned the starting spot. Castro is currently the only National League SS hitting over .300 and is 4th in the NL in hits and 5th in stolen bases. Tulowitzki has actually upped his voting lead on Cardinals Rafael Furcal since the last update. If he can come back this week and do what Tulo does, he’ll end up the starter.

Jimmy Rollins actually jumped into the top 5 since the first update. If someone can explain to me why that happened, I would be most appreciative. Phillies fans should be rallying around Carlos Ruiz, not Rollins. However, I guess Rollins is better than Alex Gonzalez who was 5th in the original release.

Acceptable to Vote For: Rafael Furcal, Cardinals and Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

Please Stop Voting For: Jimmy Rollins, Philles, Jose Reyes, Marlins, and Alex Gonzalez, Brewers

6/14 Update: Troy Tulowitzki re-injured his groin on rehab and needs to be re-evaluated.  I’m moving him out of the “Acceptable to Vote For” area for now.  As pointed out in the comments where’s Jed Lowrie?  I had him and Ian Desmond just under that same area, but I have no problem with voting for either of them over Rollins, Reyes, and Gonzalez.  They’re both distantly behind Castro and Furcal though to me.

Third Base

Mapes Pick: Chipper Jones, Braves

No doubt my most controversial pick. I akin this to Cal Ripken’s final season where he was voted to start the All-Star Game. I believe that Jones deserves the same honor. David Wright is having a fantastic season as he is top 3 in average, OBP and OPS. Pablo Sandoval is a solid player, but missing that time with a broken hamate bone should knock him out of contention. He somehow made up enough ground to go from 4th to 2nd in the All-Star voting. David Freese has been on a tear all season and deserves to be there, I’m sure Tony LaRussa will make room for him. Third base is a deep position this year, but the Chip should get one last trip out of respect.

Acceptable to Vote For: David Wright, Mets and David Freese, Cardinals

Please Stop Voting For: Pablo Sandoval, Giants and Placido Polanco, Phillies

Outfield

Mapes Picks: Carlos Beltran, Cardinals, Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies, and Melky Cabrera, Giants

This is the toughest choice. I can make a great case for ten players to be in the top 3. Instead of telling you why not the other seven, I’ll tell you why these three. Beltran has been one of the best if not the best free agent pickup this season. Beltran leads the NL in home runs, 3rd in RBI, 3rd in slugging, 5th in total bases, and 6th in OPS. Hard to not have the best home run hitter in the league so far make the team.

Cabrera leads the NL in batting average, hits and triples, while being 3rd in runs scored and total bases. The Melk Man has delivered for the Giants as a spark plug for the offense.

Which brings me to Carlos Gonzalez. Who is egregiously 10th in the NL OF voting. I’m not sure what else CarGo needs to do to prove he belongs in Kansas City. He leads the NL in runs scored and total bases. He’s 2nd in the league in RBI, slugging, and home runs. Plus, is 3rd in OPS. I can’t figure out how there are nine players let alone nine outfielders that you can put ahead of him.

Andrew McCutchen (11th) and Giancarlo Stanton (not in the top 15?!?!) deserve some more love too. The Pirates are in first place and McCutchen has been fantastic, it’s not like Pirates fans have a lot of other guys they should be voting for too.

Ryan Braun was the toughest omission as he’s been great for the Brew Crew, this is the deepest position in either league. It will be interesting to see who LaRussa has to “snub” in this. I haven’t even gotten Michael Bourn who leads all NL outfielders in WAR or Andre Ethier who leads the league in RBI. Just incredible.

There’s also some guy name Bryce Harper you might have heard of. Unlike Mike Trout, who I had starting in the outfield for the AL, Harper gets blocked in the NL from the depth at the position. I could see him making a splash at the Home Run Derby though.

Should Matt Kemp be starting the game? Probably not. It’s hard to have a player that is going to have played half the games of some of the other players. It appears as if the fans will vote him in, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Kemp takes the break off for his hamstring and focuses on his Home Run Derby captainship. That hurts to say as Kemp had one of the greatest months in MLB history.

Acceptable to Vote For: Ryan Braun, Brewers, Michael Bourn, Braves, Andrew McCutchen, Pirates, Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins, Andre Ethier, Dodgers, Matt Holliday, Cardinals, and Hunter Pence, Phillies

Please Stop Voting For: Matt Kemp, Dodgers, Jason Heyward, Braves, Jay Bruce, Reds, Shane Victorino, Phillies, and Jon Jay, Cardinals

Who would crack your NL All-Star ballot? Let us know in the comments!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

Just Walk It Out

The MLB Fan Cave has a cool piece up today about stars such as Matt Kemp and Troy Tulowitzki discussing how they choose their walk-up songs. For Kemp, it’s always hip-hop. For Tulo, he lets the fans decide, even resorting to Miley Cyrus or Justin Beiber if that’s what it takes to give the fans a surprise. That got me to thinking…there are some very distinct players who should have more appropriate warm-up or walk-up music! If you missed Episode 2 of Three Up, Three Down, you missed our punny game of Yu Darvish warm-up songs. Find that right here! Here are five other players I think should change their music (with a little bonus at the end):

1. Barry Zito, San Francisco Giants – You Lied by Green Day: In one of the rarest instances in human history, I actually feel…bad for the Giants. I mean, they thought they were getting a Cy Young-winning superstar from the A’s when they signed Zito to a $126-million contract. Since then all he’s done is drained the bank, watched his pitches land in the bleachers, and angered half of California. Zito seems like a nice enough guy, but the Giants are paying him to win ball games for them. How he continues to earn a roster spot baffles me. Barry, you definitely lied to the Giants (and this Dodger fan thanks you for it).

2. Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers – Rehab by Amy Winehouse: Let me begin by begging your immediate forgiveness. I know it’s too soon. And I also really like Hamilton and respect the way he’s gone about all the trials and tribulations throughout his career. That being said, wouldn’t it be hilarious if he came up to this song? Like a “I’m snickering quietly behind my hand even though I want to burst out laughing because I think offending an entire stadium into silence is pretty awesome” way? We all know the problems Hamilton has had in Texas with alcohol relapse and all his drug problems earlier on. So it seems only right that he poke a little fun at the whole situation. No? Still mad? Damn.

3. Juan Oviedo, Miami Marlins – Who Are You by The Who: See what I did there? Did ya, did ya?! In case you didn’t know, Juan Oviedo is the closer formerly known as Leo Nunez. I don’t think he’s even still on the Marlins’ roster, actually. But it was way too perfect to pass up. Imagine a closer trying to go out all pumped up to secure a win, and then hearing a blatantly offensive song blaring through the speakers at him? Advantage, offense. I’d imagine the first batter would get a little obligatory high heat just out of pure frustration. Oviedo is actually a pretty solid player, so maybe he wouldn’t let it get to him. But I’d sure like to see it happen.

4. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals – Teenage Dirtbag by Wheatus: This is very self-explanatory. Harper is just 19 years old and will probably be making his debut sometime in 2012. Unlike former teenage phenoms like Miguel Cabrera, Ken Griffey, Jr. and Jason Heyward (I know he was 20, give me a break. Close enough.), Harper comes into the league with a fat cloud of controversy hanging over him. He’s one of the most hyped prospects of all-time and hasn’t done himself any favors with a determined, yet pissy attitude at times. He’s very confident and outspoken and rubbed some people the wrong way when he left high school early to pursue professional ball. The reason he’s a real teenage dirtbag is because he claims to root for the Yankees, Cowboys, Lakers and Duke. What the HELL, Bryce?

5. Alejandro De Aza, Chicago White Sox – Alejandro by Lady Gaga: Well, duhh! Sure, it’s clever that it’s his name and all, but on an even better note, this would be one of the most embarrassing songs to ever have associated with you as a manly professional athlete. It’s stupid, annoying and would get stuck in everyone’s heads all game long. Maybe that’s a good thing – if the opposing pitcher is distracted, the White Sox may mount a rally! But it would be pretty awkward when 30,000 fans run screaming out of the stadium covering their ears. Wait…breaking news. I’ve just been informed that this IS De Aza’s walk-up song. Well, all I have to say to that is HAHAHAHAHA! New favorite player.

6. BONUS – Bryan Mapes, Host and Co-Creator of Three Up, Three Down – Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne: Thought I was gonna take a dig at you here, didn’t ya? I decided to take the high road and honor Chipper Jones’ big retirement announcement and name Mapes’ walk-up song as the one so many Braves fans know and love Chipper for. Hopefully Mapes won’t be retiring anytime soon, but he can still hang on to one of the greatest Braves of all time with this tribute. Alllllll aboard! (Props to @AtTravisMiller for suggesting Numa Numa for Mapes – the resemblance is uncanny!)

Do you have some other good ideas for walk-up or warm-up songs for MLB players? Comment here and tell us what you think, or you can write on our Facebook wall or Tweet us any suggestions! Don’t forget to like the Facebook page, follow us on Twitter and check back regularly for more blogs and podcasts from Three Up, Three Down!

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)