Tag Archives: American League East

October Classic Starts Tonight

Tonight marks the start of the 2013 World Series pitting the National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals against the American League Champion Boston Red Sox.

With the American League winning this year’s All-Star Game, home field advantage falls to the Red Sox which means that Fenway Park will be host to yet another Opening Game of the Fall Classic.

The fact that the Red Sox made it to the World Series and have home field advantage should not be that big of a surprise to anyone who paid attention to the standings this year.

For most of the season the Red Sox were the most dominant team in the American League. And as champions of the American League East they played one of the toughest schedules in all of baseball with numerous games against the Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays, and New York Yankees.

It should almost be a given that the winner of the American League East goes directly to the World Series each year since the competition in the division is that tough year after year.

After winning the East the Red Sox still had to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Division Series.

While the Red Sox were the best team in the American League for most of the season the Cardinals were setting the pace in the National League.

So while many times the best teams do not always make it to the World Series few could argue that the most dominant teams from the past season made it to the ultimate championship round this year.

And while I pretty much gave up watching baseball this season when the Rays lost in the Playoffs, I will likely tune into the World Series.

That is the magic of the World Series where people watch the games for the history and the excitement regardless of what teams they follow during the regular season.

And while I will watch the World Series I have yet to decide who I will be rooting for.

Nothing against either the Cardinals or the Red Sox but they really just are not teams that I can get excited over. I do not have ties to the New England region or the Midwest so there is no geographical link that would pull me one way or the other.

Also, can I in good faith root for the team that eliminated my team from the Playoffs? There are some that say that rooting for the team that eliminates your team allows you to say that your team lost to the eventual champion so that is a good thing.

There is another school of thought that says to root for the team that did not beat your team since one doesn’t want the team that knocked out their team to be crowned champion.

Of course there are other factors at play that would have some conspiracy theorists saying that the fact that the Red Sox are in the World Series has less to do with them playing better than the other 14 teams in the American League and more to do with the Hollywood element of what happened in Boston a few months back and the need to wrap things up with a pretty little bow.

For those who may have forgotten there was an attack during the Boston Marathon this year.

Following the attacks, the Boston Red Sox became a symbol of the region’s resolve and determination to fight back against senseless attacks.

Throughout Major League Baseball teams showed their solidarity for the people of Boston by among other things playing Sweet Caroline, a Fenway Park eighth inning staple in their ballparks as well.

As if that weren’t enough, there were even live performances by Neil Diamond pretty much everywhere you looked.

And of course there was David “Big Papi” Ortiz standing on the field at Fenway reminding people whose town it was with colorful language that any other time would have garnered a fine from the FCC for obscenity but was deemed okay as heat of the moment impassioned speech.

So with all of the factors listed above some would have just said then and there that the other American League teams were foolish if they thought that anyone other than the Red Sox would be in the World Series.

In fact I mentioned to several friends at the time how I figured that the perfect ending to the season in most people’s minds would be a Boston Red Sox Championship.

The only question remaining was which parts would Mark Wahlberg and Ben Affleck play in the inevitable movie about the Red Sox bringing the people of Boston together.

Of course the last time the Hollywood ending was put in play during the World Series it did not really go to plan.

Following the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, the Yankees made it to the World Series with even the biggest of anti-Yankees fans pulling for them since they represented the region and carried the memories of both those who had perished as well as those who were trying to rebuild their lives. The Yankees were even given permission from Major League Baseball to wear special caps honoring the fallen police and fire fighters.

In the Hollywood version of the 2001 World Series the Yankees would win in four games and the nation would rejoice and start the healing as Major Rudy Giuliani declared it Yankees day.

In the actual World Series of 2001 however the Arizona Diamondbacks were victorious in seven games proving that the Hollywood ending does not always happen the way people expect it to.

Fast forward to this year and the stage is once again set for a Tinsel Town take on the Classic. Of course there is still the whole matter of needing to play the games first to see who comes out on top.

So, time will tell whether the 2013 World Series ends with a Red Sox victory and ensuing Hollywood treatment or if it is another example of the underdog team winning against the will of all of those proponents of fate.

The only thing that is certain is that there will likely be mentions of the Boston Marathon attack tonight and there will be Neil Diamond; lots and lots of Neil Diamond.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some baseball to get ready for.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson

Where Getting it Wrong has no Consequences

There are few professions where one can be consistently wrong and still keep their jobs.

An accountant who messes up the numbers time and time again will soon find that their employer is none too pleased.

A chef that consistently under cooks food and makes his diners sick will soon find that no one wants to eat his food offerings.

The list goes on and on regarding professions where failure really is not an option for keeping their jobs.

Of course, as is the case with every rule, there are exceptions.

Two examples of professions where routine failures and miscalculations do not usually lead to job loss are weather forecasting professionals and sports prognosticators.

History is full of examples where both meteorologists and prognosticators have missed the mark on their “forecasts.” This failure is usually attributed to the fluid nature of what they are trying to predict.

It is true that weather and sports teams do not always follow the forecast models and predicted paths so as the 2013 Major League Baseball season ends its first month it is a good time to look at what preseason predictions were spot on and which ones clearly missed the mark altogether.

Big spending in the offseason as not worked out the way the Toronto Blue Jays hoped as they are dead last in the American League East standings. Photo R. Anderson
Big spending in the off-season has not worked out the way the Toronto Blue Jays hoped as they are dead last in the American League East standings.
Photo R. Anderson

Let’s start with the American League East standings. As mentioned before, it is the division that I have spent most of my life rooting for so it is both familiar and near and dear to my heart. It is also considered one of the toughest divisions in baseball year in and year out.

As of April 30, the Boston Red Sox were leading the division with the Toronto Blue Jays six games back in last place. The Tampa Bay Rays were in second to last place 2.5 games out of first.

Many preseason predictions showed the Toronto Blue Jays, who spent heavily on free agents in the off-season, running the table and battling the Rays for the Division title. In reality R.A. Dickey, the National League CY Young Award winner last year with the Mets, has failed to capture that same form this year with the Blue Jays. And other off-season acquisitions have also failed to show the sparks of greatness they were brought in for.

With the other four teams in the division within 2.5 games of each other a six-game hole does seem like a tough mountain to climb for the Jays’ new manager and let’s make a deal roster.

History has shown time and time again that the approach of “buying titles” by making big splashy off-season acquisitions rarely works. The Miami Marlins won two World Series titles using that formula when they were still called the Florida Marlins but the success was fleeting and each title was followed by a fire sale where all of the talent was sent packing in a payroll dumping measure.

The Marlins tried that approach again last year and sent most of their talent to the Blue Jays before the start of this season when their attempt to buy the series last year failed.

But despite this cautionary tale the Blue Jays will not be the last team to try the free agent quick fix route to a World Championship.

So with the American League East returning to a more familiar formula of the Red Sox and Yankees battling at the top with the Rays and Orioles trying to crash the party let us turn our sights to the newest kid on the American League block.

The Houston Astros face an uphill climb in their first season in the American League. I think everyone can agree on that fact. What people cannot seem to agree on is just how bad, or how good they will be this year.

Former Nationals turned Astros Bo Porter and Rick Ankiel hope to bring some of the winning ways from Washington with them to Houston. Photo R. Anderson
Former Nationals turned Astros Bo Porter and Rick Ankiel hope to bring some of the winning ways from Washington with them to Houston.
Photo R. Anderson

Before the season many sports prediction experts tapped the Astros as being the worst team in baseball for the third straight year with at best 50 wins over the course of the 161 game season.

Of course a funny thing happened during the first month of the season with the Astros winning 8 games or roughly 10 percent of the total number of wins most people thought they would have all year.

And yes, there have been some really one sided games and pitching issues in the first inning that have led to insurmountable leads for the opponents and really ugly losses for the Astros.

There have also been some quality wins over some tough opponents in the Rangers, Yankees and Angels. As well as four wins over their American League West division foe Seattle Mariners. And one more thing, The Miami Marlins have a worse record than the Astros and several teams have only one more win than Houston.

Does this mean that the Astros will go on a tear and win 60 or 70 games this year? Not necessarily. But, it does show that at this point in the season the team everybody wrote off in Spring Training has shown they have a little more fight and spirit than they were given credit for.

While things in the American League seem to be bucking many of the preseason trends, things in the National League are going a little more to plan at the completion of the first month of the season.

Just kidding, the National League is equally as crazy as the American league at this point in the season.

Currently trailing the Atlanta Braves the Washington Nationals are hoping to take manager Davey Johnson to the World Series in his last season at the helm. Photo R. Anderson
Currently trailing the Atlanta Braves the Washington Nationals are hoping to take manager Davey Johnson to the World Series in his last season at the helm.
Photo R. Anderson

I mean did anyone really expect that the Colorado Rockies would be leading the National League West and be two games ahead of the World Champion San Francisco Giants?

And back east did anyone expect the Atlanta Braves to be 3.5 games ahead of the Washington Nationals who had the best record in the regular season last year?

While there is still time for the forecasts to turn more in favor of the preseason numbers after the first month of the season there are certainly trends to support that many people just missed the mark on their predictions.

Personally I like when the predictions don’t go as planned since that shows that the game is unpredictable and anyone can win on any given day.

If all of the outcomes were known in advance it would make for a very boring season. So I salute the men and women whose preseason predictions missed the mark and say “let’s play ball for the next five months or so.”

Now if you’ll excuse me it is time to watch the weather forecast to see if I do or do not need an umbrella. Of course, they have a 50/50 chance of being both right and wrong.

Copyright 2013 R Anderson