Tagged: Padres

The Saga Continues: Padres CEO Caught on Tape Bashing Greinke After Brawl

Padres President and CEO Tom Garfinkel

Padres President and CEO Tom Garfinkel

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, they acquired a secret recording of San Diego Padres President and CEO Tom Garfinkel adamantly telling a group of fans that Zack Greinke intentionally hit Carlos Quentin last week. 

Click the link and listen/read for yourself. We see the same old tired points brought up from last week. For example, there’s “no way” that a pitcher with impeccable control misses his location that bad. Yeah, Tom. Because that’s never happened before. Ever.

Garfinkel not only completely dismisses the possibility that the 3-2 count and 2-1 game affects the argument, but cites an inaccurate “heat map” in explaining why it was such an obviously intentional hit by pitch. While Garfinkel also mentions that he couldn’t be sure what Greinke said that caused Quentin to charge, he says people in the Padres baseball-operations department “who can read lips” were unsure.

What does that even mean? I know how to read lips, too. Can you pay me to read the lips of pitchers for your last-place team, Mr. Garfinkel? As a Dodger fan, this doesn’t even hit me personally. It just worries me that someone can be so…idiotic. 

Obviously, as this news makes the round on social media, Garfinkel is going to get absolutely abused by fans. And it’s for good reason. Not only did he come out and spew foolish things like this in the presence of some kind of microphone, but he compared Greinke, who suffers from social anxiety issues, to Rain Man.

Good luck getting out of this one, Tom. Maybe the next intentional pitch that gets away from a Dodgers pitcher will sail through the window of your suite.

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Follow @3u3d on Twitter and like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook for all your 2013 MLB news!

Our Lawyer Made Us Change the Name of this Blog So We Wouldn’t Get Sued

FOB first pitchSee what I did there? Props to our friend @teammegan for alerting me to this, as I happened to miss yesterday’s first pitch in the Dodgers-Padres game while I waded through heavy traffic and struggled with a “failed connection” on my AtBat app on the way home from work.

In Los Angeles, it’s not uncommon to see celebrities throw out the first pitch at Dodgers games. But the guests yesterday surprised me a little bit. Fall Out Boy took over Dodger Stadium to promote the release of their new album, and even in doing research just now, nostalgia is kicking in hard.

Everybody remembers their first kiss, first day of school, and first Choco Taco. But most people also remember their first concert.

Mine was most definitely headlined by Fall Out Boy in 2006. Hawthorne Heights was there, too. And some crazy opener named Heroin. Or Crack. Something drug-related and terrifying.

And not only was FOB my first concert attended, it was my first concert regretted (though I did have a great time now that I think about it). Looking back, I’m not sure what turned me against them so hard. Maybe my friends stopped listening to them (WHAT?! I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL, THESE THINGS HAPPEN!). Or maybe  I didn’t realize the athletic significance to their lyrics (“Sugar, we’re goin’ down swingin’…” — joking, again. Obviously.).

Well, at least their CD’s never got the Good Charlotte treatment from my puberty-inspired hammer-smashing rage (now that I think about it, I was kind of an idiot in high school…). Either way, Megan loves Fall Out Boy and I’m glad she tipped me off to this. All sins can be forgiven if you wear a Dodger hat. Are you listening, Giants fans?

Also, looking at the box score from last night’s loss, I believe Pete Wentz was the only pitcher wearing a Dodgers cap to actually throw a pitch and not get rocked. My goodness that’s depressing.

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Follow @3u3d on Twitter and like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook for all your 2013 MLB news!

Insanity in San Diego: Greinke Injured in Brawl, Kemp and Quentin Fight After Game

dodgers padres brawl

Update (4/12/13): Greinke is out for approximately eight weeks. Quentin has been suspended for eight games, Hairston, Jr. for one game. Both of those players have appealed.

This blog has already morphed and transformed 100 different times tonight as more and more details are released about the ridiculous brawl at Petco Park. We have embedded videos from sources like MLB and ESPN to give you a clear timeline of what went down. Enjoy the madness, and vote in the polls below!

Bottom of the 6th inning:

Carlos Quentin, leading off the 6th for the Padres (who were down 2-1 at the time), took the count to 3-2 against Zack Greinke. That next pitch got away inside and nailed Quentin on the elbow, at which point he charged the mound. You can see the fight in its entirety here:

As many Tweeters reminded us, Quentin routinely leads the league in hit by pitches:

These things happen when a batter crowds the plate and takes away the pitcher’s inside corner. And it doesn’t help that Quentin clearly has no idea how to get out of the way of an inside pitch (from the first game of the series on Tuesday):

As you see in the video of the brawl, Quentin and Greinke collided shoulder-to-shoulder, and the 50-pound advantage of the batter definitely took its toll on the smaller pitcher. The benches cleared as Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis tackled Quentin to the ground. Many people thought Greinke may have yelled something to Quentin after the beaning, which this ESPN video shows is true (embedding ESPN videos does not work on WordPress):

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:9162952

My expert lip-reading abilities tell me that Greinke said something along the lines of “F— off.” Hardly grounds for a rage-induced attack on Quentin’s part. For all I know, Greinke may just have been tired of Quentin’s act, as a fellow NL West pitcher became last season:

Before we go any farther, let me bring you back a few years…

April 8th, 2009:

Different teams, a different division, in a different league; same matchup. In Greinke’s 2009 Cy Young year with the Kansas City Royals, he beaned then-White Sox Quentin in the 4th inning of an early-season game. Quentin took a step toward Greinke before being cooled off and taking first base.

After that outing (the Royals won 2-0), Greinke said it was an accident, and even mentioned that he was “scared” for Quentin at first, thinking it might hit his head:

“He had a reason for [being upset],” said Greinke of Quentin. “Any time you throw it that high, it’s justified. You’ve got to be better than that and not pitch like that. You’re going to make mistakes, but the last thing you want to do is hit someone where it could seriously hurt them. As soon as I let go of it, I was scared for him.”

So there was history. Whether or not it was intentional then, or intentional this year, is a matter we can likely never pinpoint. But in both instances, Greinke held a slim lead–hardly a situation in which you want to put anyone on base purposely.

Unless Quentin slapped Greinke’s mother years ago for some unknown reason, there is no motive for Greinke to throw at Quentin in the first place. Not to mention, that little dust-up was four years ago now. That’s a long, long time for someone to hold a grudge in sports.

Okay, memory lane was fun. Let’s bring it back to present day…

Halfway through the brawl:

In the video of the fight, you can see Matt Kemp going absolutely bonkers in the scrum (kerfuffle, if you will). At one point, he had multiple teammates restraining him after getting in a face-to-face shouting match with Padres manager Bud Black.

After it looked like the dust had settled, Dodgers utility man Jerry Hairston, Jr. took off toward the Padres dugout with his finger pointed at someone. If Don Mattingly’s postgame comments are any indication, the Padre in question was backup catcher John Baker, who was raised in my hometown of Walnut Creek, CA and does not seem the type to be involved.

But as Hairston, Jr. tweeted later, he was going at the Padres because he saw a player making fun of Greinke:

Finally, the skirmish ended and Greinke was walked off the field by head trainer Sue Falsone. The umpires eventually ejected the pitcher, along with Quentin, Kemp, and Hairston, Jr. Shortly thereafter, Chris Capuano relieved Greinke on the bump for Los Angeles, and promptly allowed a game-tying single.

Though the unlikeliest of heroes, Juan Uribe, went deep later to help seal a 3-2 victory for the Dodgers, nothing could take the sting out of the news that broke after the game.

Postgame press conferences:

As soon as the game ended, fans demanded answers. Mattingly was happy to give them his, with multiple microphones stuck in his face. But first, the Dodgers got awful news regarding their $147 million pitcher:

According to Yahoo’s Jeff Passan, who is by no means a medical expert but does his research very thoroughly, the Dodgers can expect to miss Greinke for at least six weeks:

So needless to say, Mattingly was upset with the result of everything except the win. When pressed about the incident, Mattingly referred to Quentin as an “idiot” who has “zero understanding of the game of baseball,” given the situation in which he charged the mound.

Most shockingly, the skipper also declared that Quentin deserved to be suspended for as long as Greinke was on the shelf. Many writers on Twitter agreed with this sentiment, and yours truly can’t argue the idea. Of course, Quentin won’t get a lengthy suspension. Chances are, he’ll be looking at a four or five game suspension at the most. But we will have to wait and see what kind of action the league decides to take, and also to see if they discipline Kemp for his actions.

As if Quentin needed anyone else against him, A.J. Ellis told Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times that a few Padres apologized to him on their teammate’s behalf:

We also have the video of Quentin’s postgame chat with reporters here, which is full of blame deflections and question avoidance. Black, Quentin’s manager, said the history between the two players did play a part in the brawl. Greinke responded with some comments of his own, insisting he didn’t mean to hit Quentin and never has in the past. Plus, additional notes from Mattingly on the injury at the beginning of the video:

After cooling off, you’d think the situation would be put to rest. Alas, this night got crazier…

In the clubhouse tunnel:

Kemp couldn’t let the issue go, and stayed extremely fired up at Quentin for injuring Greinke. He went after Quentin by the player’s exit, reportedly asking why he charged the mound and ended up injuring Kemp’s teammate:

The Associated Press was able to snag a picture of the two players arguing (see below) before they were separated. The scene could have gotten much uglier, but it was luckily diffused in time. On one hand, you have to admire Kemp’s willingness to defend his pitcher and not back down from what he considered a threat. Leadership like that can pull a team closer together.Matt Kemp, Carlos Quentin

But on the other hand, the last person the Dodgers need getting suspended or playing upset is Kemp. The star center fielder is already struggling with the bat so far in 2013, and needs to recognize the difference between playing hard and playing pissed.

At the end of the night, Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez (who was injured in the World Baseball Classic and has been on the DL all season) tweeted a slight silver lining, apparently in an attempt to calm the angry hordes:

So the Dodgers won the game, the series, and a bit of hope from Ramirez. But losing Greinke is a huge blow for the Dodgers pitching staff, who will likely replace him with either Ted Lilly or Chris Capuano–both massive downgrades. San Diego and Los Angeles reconvene at Dodger Stadium for a three-game set on Monday, prompting the Dodgers official Twitter account to put out this gem after the game:

At the very least, that series will be under an intense microscope by fans, players and journalists everywhere. For the Padres, a chance to be relevant. For the Dodgers, a chance to prove that they are more than a rich all-star team–that they can win with talent and heart and team chemistry.

Stay tuned to Three Up, Three Down for more coverage as the news continues to roll in. Please vote in the polls below, and feel free to share your comments with us, too.

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE us on Facebook at Three Up, Three Down for all your breaking MLB news!

Chowin’ Down: Meat Parfait and Shrimp Tacos

Imagine eating your favorite local food in a city where it’s not the norm.  Miller Park offers one of the most unique eating experiences that I have ever witnessed in a ballpark.  I was in Milwaukee to catch the Padres series when I was asked if I wanted to “eat something San Diego”.  I think that was because I had my Padres shirt and them not knowing I’m from Detroit.

But I said “sure,” and headed up a level to see what all the rave was about.  One stand on the 2nd level behind home plate serves a changing menu based on the visiting team.  The menu features a specialty that you would find in the visiting team’s city.  For San Diego, it is shrimp tacos.

Shrimp tacos were on the menu for the entire series and that was the only dish served with “San Diego flair,” but it was also the only one needed.  Each order came with three flour tortilla filled with grilled pineapple-cilantro slaw, avocado, blackened shrimp, and salsa verde sauce and chipotle ranch sauce.Image

Personally I love fish or shrimp tacos so this was a perfect fit for me.  The tortilla was warm and soft, the guacamole was tangy, the salsa verde gave it added flavor and the slaw gave the taco a very nice crunch.  Oh and the shrimp…ohhhh the shrimp.  If you are a seafood eater, you may be picky about your flavors and textures when it comes to good eats.  These fellas were abundant and bountiful. Each taco had four large shrimp on them to top it all off.

The best part of it all, these delicious shrimp tacos are so reasonably priced that your wallet doesn’t take the usual ballpark hit! Only $9.50!

-Angelo (@GODF_TH_R)

Then comes the perennial powerhouse that every visiting baseball fan should try. The epic Meat Parfait.
Three layers mashed potatoes, two layers meat, all covered in sweet barbeque sauce with some chives to top it off. Being from Milwaukee, I have been around since the consecration of this beautiful man snack and have had the pleasure of indulging in it’s classic meat and potatoes goodness multiple times.  It starts off with a typical scoop of mashed potatoes, which is then layered with your choice of either pulled pork or pulled beef.  I typically tend to go for the beef on the bottom layer and then pork on the top (Yes, you can mix and match). After another layer of potatoes and your pulled meat of choice, they cap it all off with the final potato scoop and drizzle it with as much barbeque as you can handle.Image

If your mouth isn’t watering at this point, you may not be human.  For eating tips, I generally recommend to try and get a nice mix of meat and potatoes in each bite, but be wary, because once you run out of meat at the bottom, it’s all mashed potatoes and remnants of BBQ from there.

You can find these in most corners of Miller Park on every level, and the same stand also offers delicious pulled BBQ sliders if the Meat Parfait is too much for you.  It all comes in at the nice price point of $7.00, which is completely affordable to every fan at the game. Hope to see you out at the stadium and enjoying one of the finer things in life: Pulled BBQ.

-Kurt (@FalconKP)

#MapesFantasySpecial For September 18th

Well we hit a bump in the road after Kyle Kendrick, Andrew Cashner, and Dan Straily evened out the greatness that had been the Mapes Fantasy Special.  Naturally, the secondary picks of Francisco Liriano, Tommy Milone, Jeremy Guthrie, and Mike Minor were the ones I should have gone with.  Hopefully you find yourself in the next round of the playoffs.  Here’s what I like for Tuesday, September 18th.

I’m going with Mets rookie Matt Harvey making his last start of the season at home against the Phillies.  The 39% owned righty was solid pitching at Philadelphia on August 29th going 6.1 IP and giving up just two earned runs.  I think Harvey will want to leave a lasting impression on Mets fans as they head to the offseason.  Harvey’s strikeout potential (63 in 52.1 IP) is tremendous if you’re looking for a push in that category.  Plus, you’ve got to like him pitching in Citi Field where he has a 2.12 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 17 innings.

We’re double dipping today for Mapes Fantasy Special with one of our favorites Baltimore’s Wei-Yin Chen.  Chen provided great numbers for us last week (7.1 IP, 8H, 2ER, 1BB, 7K) against the Rays.  He now gets to pitch in possibly the best pitchers park in Seattle.  Last time he faced the Mariners at Safeco, Chen just dropped a pitching line of 7.1 IP, 2H, 2ER, 0BB, and 9K.  That exactly what we’re looking for in a Mapes Fantasy Special and what Orioles are looking for in their playoff push.  Chen is owned in just 45% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.

If You’re Desperate: Yankees veteran Andy Pettitte returns from a broken fibula after three months to take on the Blue Jays.  He’s a big game pitcher, but not a risk I think I’m willing to take, Pettitte is owned in 22% of leagues.  Athletics rookie A.J. Griffin (46% owned) has been an absolute stud since getting called up, but I’m not sure I’m willing to trust him on the road against the Tigers team that has the 3rd best OPS against righties in MLB.  Padres Eric Stults (18% owned) has a matchup at Chase Field against the D’Backs, which is usually scary, but Stults threw 7 scoreless at Arizona just four starts ago.  Braves Paul Maholm (44% owned) has been Jeckyll & Hyde lately alternating good and horrible starts.  He’s due for a good start this time (if you believe that sort of thing) at the Marlins who he held to one earned over eight innings last time he faced them.  Reds Homer Bailey (34% owned) has three straight starts of 2ER or less, but faces a Cubs team who he gave up nine hits and four earned runs last time he pitched in the Windy City.

If You’re Desperate Rankings: Maholm, Griffin, Stults, Pettitte, Bailey

Good luck in your fantasy leagues!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

#MapesFantasySpecial For September 16th

Down to the wire time! You’re looking for anything that can help you win on Sunday in the playoffs. Here’s what could help out your pitching staff on Sunday, September 15th.

Here’s a pitcher that is available in 94% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues. A’s rookie Dan Straily has been very good in three of his four starts since getting called up. He also has great strikeout potential if you’re facing an uphill climb in that category. I also like that this was Jason Hammel’s rotation spot for Baltimore and Hammel unfortunately got hurt. This means the Orioles will have to go with a spot starter or someone on short rest on the road. Advantage: Athletics.

If You’re Desperate: Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco (31% owned) has given up just one earned run over his last three starts with two shutouts against the 1st place Nationals. He gets another 1st place team in the Reds at home. If you’re truly desperate you can do worse than Nolasco’s upside. Twins rookie Scott Diamond (38% owned) has been pretty great at home this season with a 3.13 ERA and 1.14 WHIP, but he has limited strikeout potential. Diamond faces the White Sox, who tagged him for four earned runs in 5 innings, just ten days ago in Chicago. I like him to be better in the confines of Target Field. Braves Mike Minor (44% owned) has bounced back after a disastrous start to the season. Minor hasn’t given up a earned run in his last two starts, with 15 strikeouts in 12.2 IP. He gets the Nationals and 19-game winner Gio Gonzalez, so if you’re looking for a W, it might be better to look elsewhere. Padres rookie Andrew Werner (7% owned) has been amazing for San Diego giving up two earned runs or less and six innings or more in all four of his career starts. You have to like the combo of Petco and the Rockies. He also has provided strikeouts with 23 in 24.1 innings this season for San Diego.

Good luck in your fantasy leagues!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

#MapesFantasySpecial For September 14th

Mapes Fantasy Special’s have been doing quite well since making a comeback on the blog to help you out in your fantasy playoffs.  Travis Wood, Clayton Richard, and Wei-Yin Chen have combined for three quality starts, with a 2-0 record, 1.63 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and 18 strikeouts in 22 innings.  Hope you were able to grab all three.  Let’s see what’s in a bag of tricks for Friday.

Looks like I pulled out Padres flamethrower Andrew Cashner!  Cashner returned from injury to give up 2ER in 5 innings against the Diamondbacks and now gets a last-place Rockies team at Petco.  The Rockies are 28th in MLB in road OPS this season and have had their troubles away from hitter-friendly Coors Field.  Cashner also provides some great strikeout potential with 50K in 41.2 IP this season.  Cashner is owned in just 14% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.

There are some other good options for a spot start tomorrow that are available in 50% or more of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.  Athletics Tommy Milone (44% owned) is home against the Orioles who as I type just walked-off against the Rays in the 14th inning and have to travel all the way across the country.  Milone has a 2.77 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP at home this season.  You can use him before the Athletics hit the road against some tough competition.

White Sox Francisco Liriano looks intriguing against his old team, the Twins, at Target Field.  The 33% owned pitcher gave up 2 runs in 6 innings with 8 strikeouts the first time he faced his former team on the road.  If you can afford the WHIP hit and need strikeouts, he may be worth the risk.  Be warned though that the Twins are the 2nd hardest to strikeout in the Majors this year.

If you’re looking for ERA/WHIP help I’d go Milone.  If you’re looking for strikeouts, I’d go Liriano.  However, I think it’s Andrew Cashner that will get the best mix of everything on Friday and is available in the most leagues.  Good luck in your fantasy playoffs!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

#MapesFantasySpecial For September 12th

It’s playoff time for fantasy baseball head-to-head leagues.  Not a better time to try and give a daily recommedation to try and help you out down the stretch!  We’re looking for pitchers that are available in more than half of leagues.  Here’s my pick for Wednesday, September 12th.

Cubs pitcher Travis Wood is just 7% owned in Yahoo! fantasy leagues.  Wood has had a quality start in 3 of his last 4 starts and only missed the 4th by 1/3 of an inning.  He takes on the Astros who he has dominated in his career with a 2.09 ERA and 0.98 WHIP over 43 innings.  Wood threw 7.2 shutout innings last time he faced Houston on July 1st.  I also think Clayton Richard at home in Petco against the Cardinals could be serviceable if you’re looking to use up some innings.  Richard is owned in 28% of leagues and has a 2.76 ERA and 1.07 WHIP at home this year.  Good luck!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

If I Could Turn Back Time: Atlanta Braves Edition

I absolutely loved Jim Caple’s piece today on if you could go back in time what’s the one MLB game you would go see?  If I’m answering Caple’s question I think I would go with Babe Ruth’s called shot game in the 1932 World Series.  It was a great game and I would love to see first hand if The Sultan of Swat really did call his home run.  It got me thinking though as a Braves fan what games would I want to go back and see the most?  After much deliberating, here’s my top five.

#5 Padres at Braves, August 12, 1984, The Fight Game

I bet you’re sitting there thinking, “this guy is picking a random game in August against the Padres?”  You would be right, but this isn’t your typical game.   This game features probably the greatest series of basebrawls in the history of MLB.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look at the video!  How cool would this have been to see in person?

#4 Braves at Twins, October 27, 1991, Smoltz vs. Morris

This is on the short list of greatest games ever played period.  In Caple’s column Indians closer Chris Perez picked it as the game that he would go see if he could travel back in time.  John Smoltz and Jack Morris dueled with neither giving an inch.  The Twins had the bases loaded in the bottom of the 8th and couldn’t get the game-winning run across.  The Twins had their chance again in the bottom of the 9th and couldn’t get the World Series walk-off.  Jack Morris refused to come out of the game and pitched a scoreless top of the 10th, ending with a gutsy 126 pitches.  Gene Larkin broke through for Minnesota bringing in Dan Gladden with the winning run.  It’s a game that drove 7 year-old me to tears all night, but a game 21 years later that I can truly appreciate for great baseball.

#3 Indians at Braves, October 28, 1995, The World Series One-Hitter

If Braves/Twins didn’t let me sleep because I was so sad, Indians/Braves didn’t let me sleep that night because I was so happy.  This was the best Braves team I had ever seen.  Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and John Smoltz anchored the best rotation the Braves had during the division title run.  Like game 7 of the 1991 World Series, this title-clinching game in 1995 would finish 1-0.  Glavine threw eight innings of one-hit ball, while David Justice hit the biggest home run of his life.  The title was the feather in the cap of manager Bobby Cox after the disappointment of the previous four seasons losing in the playoffs and the baseball strike.  I would have loved to have been there to celebrate with my fellow Braves fans at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

#2 Pirates at Braves, October 14, 1992, Sid Bream Slide Game

This is the most exciting win in Braves history and another great game that is consistently ranked in the top ten of games all time.  Game 7 of the National League Championship Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Braves found themselves down 2-0 heading to the bottom of the 9th.  Just when Pirates fans were set to exact their revenge on Atlanta for the previous season, things got fun.  Terry Pendelton led off with a single, then an error and a walk gave the Braves bases loaded with no outs.  Ron Gant hit a sacrifice fly to make it 2-1.  Another walk made the bases loaded once again with the hopes resting on pinch-hitter Brian Hunter.  Hunter wasn’t up to the task, leaving Bobby Cox to call on backup catcher Francisco Cabrera with the bases loaded and two outs.  This is what happened.

#1 Dodgers at Braves, April 8, 1974, Hank Aaron Passes the Babe

The only game on this list that actually occurred before I was born, but it is one of the biggest moments in MLB history.  Hank Aaron dealt with so much in his chase of the home run record that it just added to this moment’s greatness.  To have been one of the lucky one’s in attendance would have been a true honor.

Honorable Mention: Phil Niekro or Warren Spahn’s no-hitter, Randy Johnson’s perfect game against the Braves in 2004, Bob Horner’s four-homer game in 1986, Bobby Cox’s final game in 2010, Hank Aaron’s 714th home run game, and Braves at Astros 18-inning game in 2005 NLDS

What Braves game would you have liked to have attended if you have a time machine?

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

Weekend Watch!

Hope everyone enjoyed their first taste of interleague play last weekend.  I know I did with the Braves taking two out of three from the AL East leading Rays.  Now that we’re back in traditional league play let’s see what this week has in store.  I’ll try to not put the Braves match-up with the Nationals in the top spot, but before I look at everything else, it’s a fair warning it’s going to end up there.

5) Padres at Mets

This match-up would never crack the top five usually, but it makes it for one reason, Banner Day.  What is Banner Day, you ask?  It used to be a Mets tradition that fans would make giant banners and after the game would walk in a parade around the stadium.  Living in Connecticut, I get SNY which airs Mets games.  They’ll occasionally show “Mets Yearbook” chronicling a past season and my favorite part to randomly watch is Banner Day footage.  The puns are always hilarious.  I’m setting the over/under at “We Like Ike” or “He’s got the Wright stuff” at 24.5.  Might go under with the way Ike Davis and played this year. Watch this and enjoy!

4) Giants at Marlins

Might have to make the four spot the “Marlins” spot as they’ve now been here each of the last two weeks.  The series started Thursday night with a Giants 14-7 victory.  Two struggling starters take the hill on Friday in Tim Lincecum and Josh Johnson.  The other two pitching battles are solid though as well with Madison Bumgarner and Mark Buehrle on Saturday and Matt Cain taking on Ricky Nolasco on Sunday.  I really would like to take this time to make sure you endorse Giancarlo Stanton for the 2012 Home Run Derby.  First, he breaks the scoreboard on a grand slam off of Jamie Moyer.

Then follows it up Thursday night with a bomb over the Clevelander nightclub into the Budweiser Balcony in left field.

I’ve said it from the start of the new Marlins Park. Stanton will put one off the glass in left field at some point.

3) Phillies at Cardinals

Another series that started Thursday with a high-scoring affair 10-9 in favor of the Phillies.  This series also features two solid pitching duels with Cliff Lee and Kyle Lohse on Friday and Roy Halladay/Adam Wainwright on Sunday.  As we discussed on Kelsey’s Kardinals Injury Korner the Cardinals offense is in shambles and add Matt Carpenter to the disabled list.  Halladay and Lee should be able to pick apart the depleted Redbirds lineup.  This series also features two of the best catchers in the National League in Carlos Ruiz and Yadier Molina.  National League catcher might not the deepest, but also the most difficult position to choose for the 2012 All-Star Game.  Who do you send home from Molina, Ruiz, Brian McCann, Buster Posey, and I’m being serious with these last two, Jonathan Lucroy and A.J. Ellis.  There are going to be a lot of disappointed backstops.

2) Blue Jays at Rangers

Here’s a chance for the Jays to make a statement and show the rest of the American League that they are for real and can contend for the playoffs.  Brandon Morrow goes in game one for Toronto after becoming the 1st pitcher in MLB to have two shutouts this season.  Yu Darvish should be in line for a good start on Sunday for Texas, seeing as he’s dominated every team not named the Mariners in his short career.  No home runs in the past 11 games for Josh Hamilton, ugh what’s wrong with that guy.  Please note sarcasm.

1) Nationals at Braves

The battle for NL East lead.  I tried to promise not making it number one, but it’s the only series that will decide who is leading a division come Monday.  I’ll keep it short, but the Sunday match-up of Gio Gonzalez and Brandon Beachy may decide the winner of the NL Cy Young in my “Too Early MLB Awards” coming at the start of June.  This is my favorite game of the weekend, no bias I promise.

Mapes Fantasy Special

I hit a rough patch going 1-2 last week with Henderson Alvarez and Jarrod Parker getting crushed at home, while John Danks through 6 shutout, go figure.  Naturally, Parker’s next start was fantastic.  Here’s what I have for this weekend, remember they must be 50% owned or less.  12-5 record on the season.

5/25 Ivan Nova (48% owned) at Athletics, 2-0 in his career against Oakland, the ERA isn’t great, but Nova is coming off the best strikeout performance of his career.  He should be solid in that ballpark.

5/26 Mark Buehrle (47% owned) vs. Giants, Going back to the well with Buehrle who performed admirably for me at home in a Mapes Fantasy Special two weeks ago.  Hard to expect a win against Madison Bumgarner or a ton of K’s, but good peripherals will carry the day.

5/27 R.A. Dickey (49% owned) vs. Padres, I might be copping out a little bit taking three guys really close to the 50% threshold, but I didn’t think Dickey would be available.  He never gets enough credit and is a quality start machine.  Plus, it’s Banner Day!  Kudos to any Mets fans to can sneak in a Dickey pun on the field.

What would your Mets banner say?  Let me know in the comments.  Have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend and take some time to thank a soldier for their service to our country.

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)