Tagged: Tampa Bay Rays

Bad Call Face-Off: Which Umpire Error is More Hilarious?

If the Tampa Bay Rays miss the playoffs by one game this year, do they have a legit beef with the umpiring from April 8th, 2013? Debatable. Either way, the strike three heard round the world on Monday was absolute comedy, and not in a good way.

Umpires are human, and miscues are going to happen. Oftentimes, if we’re being picky, they happen multiple times per game. But some are inexcusable (just ask Mapes–he’s still fuming over the “infield fly” in last season’s NL Wild Card game), whereas others are just plain funny.

When I saw the replay of Marty Foster’s perplexing full-count, game-ending, strike-three call on a Joe Nathan curveball that was gloved in the dirt, I couldn’t help but laugh. And I was immediately reminded of an equally embarrassing and obvious missed call last season at Coors Field that caused Rockies first baseman Todd Helton to comment: “[In the] neighborhood? It wasn’t in the same area code.”

So take a look at these two videos below, and vote in the poll: Which umpire error is more obvious…and more hilarious?

April 8th, 2013 — Rays vs. Rangers in Arlington, TX

May 2nd, 2012 — Dodgers vs. Rockies in Denver, CO 

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

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Ranking the World Baseball Classic Rosters

World-Baseball-Classic-2013In about six weeks, the World Baseball Classic will be upon us again and Team USA will look to win its first title in the competition’s history. They’ve got a good shot — manager Joe Torre released his roster on Thursday, and they are absolutely loaded.

Unfortunately for fans of Team USA, one glance at a few competing rosters will stop the celebration in its tracks. Can someone unseat two-time defending champions, Team Japan? Will Team USA improve upon their 4th-place finish in 2009?

We can’t predict the results down to the wire, but we’re here to do what we do best at Three Up, Three Down. We rank the rosters! So strap in, baseball fans, and see if your favorite team stands a chance:

**The “Stick to Soccer” Group**

Brazil hat wbc

#16: BRAZIL

Notable player(s): Barry Larkin, Manager (and Hall of Fame Reds SS)

International Baseball Federation (IBAF) Ranking: 20

Breakdown: Good thing for their dominance on the international soccer scene, because Brazil isn’t going anywhere in the Classic. Yan Gomes was the first Brazilian player to ever reach the big leagues, and the country itself only has 14 players signed to Major League contracts. How they will win: They won’t. Why they won’t: See “How they will win.”  

china wbc cap

#15: CHINA

Notable player(s): Bruce Chen, SP, Royals 

IBAF Ranking: 18

Breakdown: The Chinese baseball team is a decade away from being a serious contender, but they are headed in the right direction. They’ve made steady improvements over international tournaments since a decent showing at the 2009 WBC, in which they eliminated Chinese Taipei. How they will win: Hustle, starting pitching. Why they won’t: Not enough of either.

Spain wbc cap

#14: SPAIN

Notable player(s): Paco Rodriguez, RP, Dodgers/Engel Beltre, OF, Rangers

IBAF Ranking: 16

Breakdown: I’m not sure what to think about Spain. They lack star power, but did knock off Israel and South Africa in qualifiers. The roster is dotted with promising Major League prospects, but I don’t foresee Spain winning more than a game, maybe two in the WBC. How they will win: Breakout tourney from Beltre. Why they won’t: Their Pool C competition is stacked (Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Dominican Republic).

italy wbc cap

#13: ITALY

Notable player(s): Jason Grilli, RP, Pirates/Francisco Cervelli, C, Yankees/Nick Punto, IF, Dodgers/Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs/Chris Denorfia, OF, Padres

IBAF Ranking: 9

Breakdown: Not only did we miss out on a Hall of Fame induction for Mike Piazza, but he won’t be participating on Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic either. Props to the Italians for back-to-back Euro Championships, but the competition is pretty weak over there right now. I think they will be humbled in the WBC. How they will win: Play with a chip on their shoulder. Why they won’t: Even the MLB-level hitters are thin.

kingdom of netherlands wbc cap

#12: KINGDOM OF THE NETHERLANDS

Notable Player(s): Jair Jurrjens, SP, MLB Free Agent/Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox/Jurickson Profar, 2B, Rangers/Jonathan Schoop, 3B, Orioles/Andrelton Simmons, SS, Braves/Roger Bernadina, OF, Nationals/Andruw Jones, OF, MLB Free Agent

IBAF Ranking: 7

Breakdown: The Dutch soccer team is one of my favorites to watch. And for the first time in recent memory, so will their baseball team. They just missed my “dark horse” cut, due to sheer overall talent of the rest of the field. But the Major League potential of some youngsters on this roster is extremely intriguing. They’ve won 20 of 32 Euro Championships ever played. How they will win: Infield of dreams breaks out. Why they won’t: Not all the youngsters will perform.

**The Dark Horses**

south korea wbc cap

#11: SOUTH KOREA

Notable player(s): Jae Seo, SP, former Met, Dodger, Ray in MLB

IBAF Ranking: 4

Breakdown: I feel ridiculous ranking Korea this low, considering their past successes in the WBC. But, it’s the third time this tournament has been played and each team has scouting on the opposition now. I don’t think South Korea will sneak up on anyone this time around. How they will win: High on-base percentage, good defense. Why they won’t: Too much good competition.

Australia-WBC-hat

#10: AUSTRALIA

Notable player(s): Peter Moylan, RP, Dodgers

IBAF Ranking: 10

Breakdown: There’s a handful of good Major League players (like A’s closer Grant Balfour) who hail from the land down under, but there isn’t a whole lot of MLB experience on this roster. Team Australia still has a shot at advancing, but they may have more trouble than in years past. How they will win: Pure grit. Why they won’t: Not enough runs, upstart opposition in Pool B.

canada wbc cap

#9: CANADA

Notable player(s): Jesse Crain, RP, White Sox/John Axford, RP, Brewers/Jameson Taillon, SP, Pirates/Russell Martin, C, Pirates/Brett Lawrie, 3B, Blue Jays/Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins

IBAF Ranking: 6

Breakdown: We all know that Canada produces some bona fide stars in MLB (Joey Votto, anyone?), but not all are present and accounted for on this roster, similar to Team Australia. They still have the talent to make a run with Lawrie, Morneau and Martin in the middle of the lineup though. How they will win: Dominant bullpen, good middle of the lineup. Why they won’t: Too much youth in the rotation.

taipei wbc cap

#8: CHINESE TAIPEI

Notable player(s): Chien-Ming Wang, SP, MLB Free Agent

IBAF Ranking: 5

Breakdown: There’s a reason that Team Chinese Taipei is a top-five ranked country right now. But their proudest current professional representative (Orioles pitcher Wei-Yin Chen) is not on the team yet. This team is still legit, and has a very winnable pool group. How they will win: Small ball. Why they won’t: Overall talent is lacking.

**The “Justtttt A Bit Outside” Group**

puerto rico wbc cap

#7: PUERTO RICO

Notable player(s): Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals/Carlos Beltran, OF, Cardinals/Angel Pagan, OF, Giants/Mike Aviles, IF, Indians/Javier Vasquez, SP, MLB Free Agent

IBAF Ranking: 12

Breakdown: There may be no more high-ceiling-yet-average team in the WBC this year. Team Puerto Rico has finished fifth at both tournaments preceding this, and killed Team USA in 2009 before being ousted by them two games later on a walk-off hit. Even with players such as Molina, Beltran and Pagan, they won’t even be favorites in their own pool. How they will win: The Major League talent they have is relentlessly good. Why they won’t: Lack of depth in the rotation.

mexico 2013 wbc cap

#6: MEXICO

Notable player(s): Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Dodgers/Luis Cruz, 3B, Dodgers/Yovani Gallardo, SP, Brewers/Danny Espinosa, 2B, Nationals/Sergio Romo, RP, Giants

IBAF Ranking: 11

Breakdown: In their pool, Team Mexico will have to deal with Team USA, but other than that they should be favored to top Team Canada and Team Italy to move on. They have a decent infield, top-of-the-line ace, and one of the best closers in baseball. How they will win: Adrian Gonzalez goes off, Gallardo is dominant. Why they won’t: Romo is neutralized unless they have a lead late.

cuba wbc cap

#5: CUBA

Notable player(s): None 

IBAF Ranking: 1

Breakdown: Don’t let the lack of notable players deceive you — this team is good. Really good. They have played in the IBAF World Cup 29 times and won 25 gold medals, finishing second the other four times. In the WBC, Team Cuba has finished second and fourth (which, at the time, was their lowest finish ever in international competition). They just can’t legally have players like Aroldis Chapman or Yoenis Cespedes on their squad, otherwise they might be even better. How they will win: Hard-throwing starters, handful of five-tool prospects. Why they won’t: The top four teams are just too stacked.

**The Favorites**

japan wbc hat

#4: JAPAN

Notable player(s): None

IBAF Ranking: 3

Breakdown: Again, don’t let the lack of Major League firepower fool you. Much like Cuba, Team Japan has been a hotbed for MLB stars over the years (Daisuke Matsuzaka, Yu Darvish). Even though none of them joined the fray in 2013, this team is stacked. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of future MLB players come off this roster after good WBC performances. After all, they are two-for-two in WBC titles up to this point. How they will win: Ichiro-style on-base scavengers, deceptive pitching. Why they won’t: Not having Ichiro and Darvish, among others, will end up costing Team Japan.

dominican republic wbc hat

#3: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Notable player(s): Santiago Casilla, RP, Giants/Octavio Dotel, RP, Tigers/Alexi Ogando, RP, Rangers/Fernando Rodney, RP, Rays/Wandy Rodriguez, SP, Pirates/Edinson Volquez, SP, Reds/Carlos Santana, C, Indians/Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers/Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees/Edwin Encarnacion, DH/OF, Blue Jays/Hanley Ramirez, IF, Dodgers/Jose Reyes, SS, Blue Jays/Nelson Cruz, OF, Rangers/Melky Cabrera, OF, Blue Jays

IBAF Ranking: 13

Breakdown: The only reason Team Dominica is ranked so low by the IBAF is because all those notable players are stars in the big leagues, and don’t regularly compete internationally for their country. But now that the WBC has rolled around again, this is one unbelievably good team. My only concern is their starting pitching depth. How they will win: Scoring 15 runs per game (no…really). Why they won’t: Like I said, starting pitching depth. Will Volquez and Rodriguez be enough?

USA wbc hat

#2: UNITED STATES

Notable player(s):  Jeremy Affeldt, RP, Giants/R.A. Dickey, SP, Blue Jays/Craig Kimbrel, RP, Braves/Kris Medlen, SP, Braves/Ryan Vogelsong, SP, Giants/Chris Perez, RP, Indians/Joe Mauer, C, Twins/Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds/Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies/David Wright, 3B, Mets/Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees/Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers/Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins/Adam Jones, OF, Orioles/Joe Torre, Manager

IBAF Ranking: 2

Breakdown: I didn’t even pick all the “notable players” I could have for this team. It’s Team USA’s equivalent of the MLB Dream Team, and Justin Verlander still is undecided as to whether he’ll join the rotation. This team is already a favorite with a balanced lineup and very strong pitching staff, but adding JV would be a coup. Check out fellow Three Up, Three Down host Bryan Mapes’ grades-by-position for Team USAHow they will win: Veteran experience, explosive pitching. Why they won’t: The bane of their existence, Team Japan, will come along eventually.

venezuela wbc cap

#1: VENEZUELA

Notable player(s): Anibal Sanchez, SP, Tigers/Felix Hernandez, SP, Mariners/Francisco Rodriguez, RP, MLB Free Agent/Ronald Belisario, RP, Dodgers/Miguel Montero, C, Diamondbacks/Salvador Perez, C, Royals/Elvis Andrus, SS, Rangers/Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, Indians/Miguel Cabrera, 3B/1B, Tigers/Pablo Sandoval, 3B, Giants/Marco Scutaro, 2B, Giants/Carols Gonzalez, OF, Rockies/Gerardo Parra, OF, Diamondbacks

IBAF Ranking: 8

Breakdown: The quantity of star power on Team Venezuela might not match up to Team USA or Team Dominica, but the quality is far and beyond. When you start your rotation with Hernandez and stack the middle of your lineup with the reigning Triple Crown winner between Gonzalez and Sandoval, you are a very, very scary team. Even though their WBC pool is very tough, it would be a momentous upset to not see Team Venezuela make moves in the 2013 tournament. How they will win: A large margin of victory. Against anyone. Why they won’t: Slumping hitters or being outplayed by one of the other favorites.

And that’s a wrap. This writer believes Team Venezuela is the team to beat, with Team USA, Team Dominica and Team Japan not far behind. But in all honesty, there are about 10-11 teams who could potentially take home the title in 2013. Root for your team and country to take home top honors, and stay tuned to Three Up, Three Down because we’ll have all your World Baseball Classic coverage.

Like what you see? Follow @3u3d on Twitter and like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook for more WBC and MLB news and analysis.

– 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)

Predicting the Most Pathetic MLB Milestone: 500,000th All Time Error!

Have you seen the home page of Baseball Reference lately? Here, check it out.

Notice the top-middle ticker, counting down the all-time MLB errors? The 500,000th error EVER is expected in four days. By their estimate, that puts the “milestone” blunder in line to happen this Sunday, September 16th.

With the hapless Cardinals and Dodgers trying to stay afloat for the second Wild Card in a four-game series this upcoming weekend, the remaining 61 errors could be made by Friday just between the two.

All jokes aside, I’ve discovered a foolproof way to accurately predict which player on which team will make the 500,000th error in Major League history. Stay with me here:

I have faith that the monumental error will actually occur on Monday, September 17th. Why? Because fewer teams play that day, so it was easier to devise my system. Oh just you wait. It gets kookier…

…out of the teams that do play on Monday, the four with the worst team fielding percentages were put into a gauntlet that has never, ever failed before. It has stood the test of time; architectural genius at its finest. And the solution to predicting the baseball gods’ wrath was so simple:

Boom. Yep. Cootie Catcher.

I asked an arbitrary, unbiased baseball fan who has no feeling for or against any of my four teams (the Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays, Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants) to pick “North,” “East,” “South,” or “West.”

She picked “East,” meaning I did the dirty – S-A-N-F-R-A-N-C-I-S-C-O-G-I-A-N-T-S. This is what we ended up with:

Keep in mind, she can’t see what I’m holding until after she has picked a direction. Next, she chose “South,” meaning I worked those hands again – R-O-C-K-I-E-S:

And finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for…the direction that will determine the ultimate goat in baseball history. With a deep breath, air laden with tension, the direction “West” was chosen. After lifting the flap, we finally have our ultimate answer:

Ah, how fitting. A good, young hitter who can’t play a lick of defense is going to drop a routine pop-up. I’m sorry, Colorado Rockies’ first/third baseman Jordan Pacheco. You are the weakest link. And you are, without shadow of a doubt, going to make the 500,000th all time error in Major League Baseball history. That’s 20,000 more errors than dollars in your $480,000 rookie salary. Good on ya!

Okay, so it’s a stupid way to go about things. But so is trying to predict who makes the error in the first place! For all I know it could be a multiple Gold Glove winner like Yadier Molina who turns the ticker. Comment below and let us know what you think – who will make that 500,000th error? Vote!

And for good measure, here is what the whole shebang looked like unfolded. A true beauty, I must say:

Don’t forget to follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook. 

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

2012 Power Rankings: Monday, August 13th

Last week in MLB, things started to even out a little bit. The Reds came back to Earth, the Angels took a small step backwards, and the Diamondbacks also recovered to normalcy.

All is right in the AL East, as the Yankees have put some distance between themselves and the rest of the division. In the AL Central and NL West, two teams are vying for first place in each and the races are as tight as we left them last week.

And despite another week of games, seemingly everyone outside of Colorado and Houston are still in the playoff race. That being said, here are this week’s official Three Up, Three Down MLB Power Rankings:

30. Houston Astros (38-78, 2-4 record last week, ranking last week: 30)

I’ll give the ‘Stros this: the two wins they were able to muster since we last met here were pretty awesome. Back-to-back walk-off wins against the Brewers at home is exciting, no matter how bad the team is. That being said, it took over 100 games to get their first walk-off? Eh…

29. Colorado Rockies (41-71, 3-3, 29)

The Rockies had to play the Giants and Dodgers, the leaders of the NL West, on the road for three games apiece. Splitting six is actually a huge moral victory for a team that is playing with half its normal roster right now. Colorado would be a player again if they could get some arms. In related news, breathing is good for you.

28. Chicago Cubs (44-69, 1-5, 28)

So, remember those cool top prospects I told you were coming up last week for the Cubs? Well Brett Jackson got three hits in his debut, then pretty much struck out the rest of the week. Josh Vitters hasn’t done anything on the offensive end. And the Cubs went 1-5. Whoops.

27. Minnesota Twins (49-65, 1-5, 21) 

And they were doing so well. A 1-5 week will slide you the wrong way in the rankings, and despite the surprisingly efficient lineup, this pitching staff is in need of major work. Honestly, none of the young starters they’ve used in 2012 show a lot of promise.

26. Kansas City Royals (49-65, 4-2, 27)

I TOLD YOU THE ROYALS WERE GOOD! If only this was the first week of the season. As long as one of my main man crushes Billy Butler is leading the way, I will always have a soft spot for the Royals. That being said, despite moving up in the rankings, they are really, awfully terrible.

25. Cleveland Indians (53-62, 3-3, 25)

Remember when the Indians were in first place? Er…a good team? Er…even above .500? Those days are long gone. Considering the Tribe had an 0h-fer last week, this is a huge improvement. The best thing I can write about Cleveland is that they don’t have the distinction of the down arrow this week. It’s the small victories sometimes.

24. San Diego Padres (51-65, 5-1, 26) 

Stay classy, San Diego. The Padres are in sole possession of fourth place in the NL West now, thanks to a five-game winning streak! Good job, Padres. Good hustle. Good effort. I really have nothing exciting to say about this team. Can you tell? Moving on…

23. Toronto Blue Jays (54-60, 1-5, 20) 

Another long, Jose Bautista-less week for the lone Canadian survivor in MLB. At least they have good, young pitching. Oh, wait. Er…at least they have Brett Lawrie. No? Damn. At least they have Joe Cart–what do you mean that was 20 years ago? Hmm…oh! AT LEAST THEY HAVE CALL ME MAYBE!

22. Miami Marlins (52-63, 3-3, 23)

Getting Giancarlo Stanton back means only one thing for the Marlins: their losses are going to be way cooler. Stanton has already made a huge impact back in the lineup, but Miami might still be looking at a last-place finish. What a poor choice for HBO’s “The Franchise.”

21. Philadelphia Phillies (52-62, 3-3, 24)

Honestly, the Phillies continue to play better since trading away Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and Joe Blanton, but that’s probably more because Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are back than anything else. The annoying thing is that with a full healthy season from those two, the Phillies are still a legit playoff team, even after the mini fire sale.

20. Milwaukee Brewers (52-61, 3-3, 22)

The fact that the Brew Crew lost on two straight walk off hits against the Astros is reason enough to give this team their first big, red down arrow. Alas, they are spared, but the bullpen is truly atrocious. Please make sure you aren’t talking to a Milwaukee fan before complaining about your team’s bullpen.

19. New York Mets (55-60, 2-4, 18)

I don’t know why I bought into the 2012 version of the Mets any more than I did the 2010 or 2011. All three teams had solid first halves only to be a massive disappointment in the second halves. Even their coolest moment, a no-hitter by Johan Santana, was lame because of a blown call.

18. Boston Red Sox (57-59, 2-4, 17)

Jon Lester is finally coming around and Adrian Gonzalez is absolutely tearing it up, but it’s probably too little too late for the Red Sox. Despite ESPN’s best efforts at convincing you otherwise, the roster in Beantown just isn’t good enough to overcome a six-game Wild Card deficit.

17. Seattle Mariners (53-63, 3-3, 19) 

You might see the record at ten games  below .500 and think the M’s season has failed. Considering the low expectations and that pretty much everyone left on the roster is a rookie, this has been a very successful season in Seattle. Building on it and maintaining it are the next steps.

16.  Arizona Diamondbacks (58-57,  3-3, 16)

How about a round of applause for NL Rookie of the Year front-runner Wade Miley and his young pal Patrick Corbin? If not for these two hot shots, the D’Backs aren’t even in the hunt right now. Ian Kennedy and Justin Upton have struggled, but somehow they are hanging tough still.

15. Los Angeles Angels (60-55, 2-4, 12) 

I excused the Angels last week for stumbling, because they played two first place teams on the road and three of their four losses were in extras. This past week, they played the A’s and Mariners. And went 2-4. These are the divisional games L.A. must win to be taken seriously.

14. Oakland A’s (61-53, 3-3, 13) 

Oakland is learning that living life in the fast line is harder than advertised. Despite continuing to play good baseball, some of their young stars are starting to crack. Plus, it doesn’t help that the Rangers went and took off. All that aside, they are still ahead of the Angels, which is a victory in itself.

13. Los Angeles Dodgers (62-53, 3-3, 10)

Don’t put Hanley in a corner, Ozzie Guillen! He will do mean things to your team. After Guillen either intentionally walked batters in front of Ramirez or neglected to walk him in situations that called for it, Ramirez picked the pitching of his former teammates apart. If he’s heating up, we’re talking about a two-horse race in this division.

12. Baltimore Orioles (62-53, 4-2, 14)

The Orioles are like the anti-Mets. A great first half story that is actually…still good in the second half? Weird. I don’t think most baseball fans are realizing how incredible the work is that Buck Showalter has done in Baltimore. Credit the offense and some of the pitching too, but Showalter has quietly turned this team into a formidable contender.

11. Tampa Bay Rays (62-52, 6-0, 15) 

The Rays get knocked down, they get up again, you neverrrrr gonna keep them down. Okay, sorry – still upset that Chumbawumba wasn’t one of the British artists to make an appearance at the Olympic Closing Ceremonies last night. Huge snub. Bigger snub than forgetting how good the Rays really are. Oh, right. Evan Longoria is back. Can you tell?

10. Detroit Tigers (61-54, 2-4, 9)

I’m still confused as to why the Tigers are two games behind the White Sox in the division. I figured they’d be making reservations for October by now. There’s one tiny problem for anyone who plays Detroit in the coming weeks: Miguel Cabrera is in absolute beast mode. Poor pitchers.

9. San Francisco Giants (63-52, 4-2, 11) 

The Giants put up 15 runs on the Cardinals in St. Louis last week. They split two on the road, then came home and dismantled the Rockies on Friday and Sunday. If Hunter Pence is settling in, this is probably the team to beat in the NL West. Ruh-roh!

8. St. Louis Cardinals (62-53, 2-4, 7) 

After jumping six spots to the top ten last week, the Cards had a bit of a rough go this week. Splitting with the Giants at home isn’t terrible, but dropping two of three over the weekend to the Phillies is bad. Especially considering how tight the NL Central is. There is not a lot of room for error this late.

7. Chicago White Sox (62-51, 3-3, 8)

If the Tigers continue to play below their abilities, the Sox will be beneficiaries. I know they made some minor moves at the deadline, like bringing in Francisco Liriano and Brett Myers, but those moves will pay off. Speaking of obscure players lighting it up in Chicago, what is Alex Rios doing hitting over .300? What did you put in my water?

6. Pittsburgh Pirates (64-50, 2-4, 6)

With about 40 games left, the Pirates need to win 17 more to reach .500 for the first time since I was in diapers. I believe they will do it, but they have their sights set higher. A 2-4 week means no distance added between them and the third-place Cardinals. A 2-4 week also means a bigger deficit behind the first-place Reds.

5. New York Yankees (67-47, 4-2, 4)

New York is 20 games over .500 and it ain’t no thang. Forget that Mark Teixeira missed time and both Alex Rodriguez and C.C. Sabathia are on the DL. The gaps just get filled and there is more than enough offensive firepower to outscore other teams. One thing for sure will be strange: Derek Lowe in a Yankees uniform.

4. Atlanta Braves (66-48, 4-2, 3) 

It must be immensely frustrating to be a Braves fan. Forget that they won a million straight division titles but only one World Series. Now they are playing unbelievably well and are still 4.5 games back in their own division. The pesky Nats aren’t going anywhere, so the Braves need to step it up even harder than usual. Yickitty!

3. Texas Rangers (67-46, 5-1, 5)

The world is not ending in Arlington after all. The Rangers are back, and with them come its star pupil, Josh Hamilton. The big lefty is back in the swing of things, and Texas took down some big opponents over the last week. This is going to be a scary team (again) in October.

2. Cincinnati Reds (69-46, 3-3, 1)

The good news: Cincinnati widened their lead on St. Louis and Pittsburgh by a full game, despite playing to a .500 clip last week. The bad news: Joey Votto needs another knee surgery. No big deal for now, considering how well they’ve played with him shelved, but when the playoffs roll around they need their star first baseman at full strength.

1. Washington Nationals (71-44, 5-1, 2)

Believe it. The Nationals are the best team in baseball. First to 70 wins and they earned every inch of it. Washington has two huge series coming up against the Giants in San Francisco this week and three at home against Atlanta to start next week. If they win four of those six, it might seal the division for them.

*Records current as play began on Monday, August 13th, 2012*

Do you agree with the rankings? Disagree? Want to punch us in the baseballs? Comment below to let us know how you really feel! And while you’re at it, follow us on Twitter @3u3d and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook.

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Five Things I Think I Think

Well the first “Five Things I Think I Think” went so well (we got a comment!) that I’ve decided to make this a recurring thing.  Going to do it Wednesday and Sunday nights.  Here’s what’s gone on in this silly, little brain of mine since we last spoke.

1)      There will be more closer turnover this year than ever.  Here’s the list of closers that have gotten hurt this season Andrew Bailey, Joakim Soria, Kyle Farnsworth, Drew Storen, and Ryan Madson.  The closer situations for those teams look pretty fluid right now, especially in Kansas City where current closer Jonathan Broxton became the 1st pitcher in 46 years to end a game with consecutive hit-by-pitches.  Everyone thought it would be Joel Peralta in Tampa Bay, not Fernando Rodney who is now 3 for 3.  Who saw Hector Santiago getting the first two saves for the White Sox?  Don’t lie and say you did.  On the north side of Chicago, Carlos Marmol is being Carlos Marmol and blowing leads in spectacular fashion for the Cubs.  There will be plenty of pitchers getting saves this season, I’ve got a feeling.

 

2)      I want to see Dee Gordon race Peter Bourjos.  Both of these speedsters are burning up the basepaths.  Gordon has an MLB leading five stolen bases (tied with Starlin Castro) and seemingly has a green light any time he’s on base.  Bourjos on the other hand had the first inside-the-park home run in the season against the Twins, circling the bases in a ridiculous 14 seconds.  The link to that is underneath.  Both of these players are in the Los Angeles area.  Can’t we set this up for a LA charity.  Bonus points to Miami Marlins teammates Emilio Bonifacio vs. Jose Reyes in the undercard.

http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=20541799&topic_id=8878746&c_id=ana&tcid=vpp_copy_20541799&v=3

3)      The Tampa Bay Rays won’t go away.  If getting one-hit over eight innings by Justin Verlander doesn’t bury them, then nothing will.  They came back in the 9th against the reigning AL MVP and then continued the onslaught on “Papa Grande” Jose Valverde.  Matt Moore was effective in his first start against a lethal Tigers offense, just another weapon in that rotation.  I’ll continue to say that Joe Maddon is the best manager in the game.

4)      I wish Erik Bedard could stay healthy.  When he is, he’s one of the better starting pitchers in the game.  I’m currently watching him pitch effectively the Dodgers on the road.  If the Pirates get 25 starts out of him, they will be well on their way to .500 for the first time since 1992.  Fantasy owners should have him rostered until he gets hurt.  He was the Mapes Fantasy Special today.  Shameless plug to follow me on Twitter @Mapes4FanCave or just search #MapesFantasySpecial for a starting pitcher to pick up that’s owned in less than 50% of leagues.

5)      Bacon Tuesday is the greatest thing ever.  It’s bacon.  It’s baseball.  Leave it to Oakland fans to come up with something so awesome.  They have great fans.  Just wish more of them would show up at the ballpark.   Jeremy will have more on his Bacon Tuesday experience on the blog soon.

-Bryan Mapes