World Series TV Guide: Game 3

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tonight is game three, but it's a Saturday and it's Halloween, so you really should go out. Because of that, the TV options are quite limited. Sure you can always find some Law and Order reruns but there is not much in the way of new programming. So if you must stay home and pass out candy, we have just one suggestion other than the World Series that are worth watching on TV.

8:00pm: College Football - Two huge games that have national championship implications. Texas pretty much controls their own destiny and they will travel to Oklahoma State. In the other matchup, Oregon hosts USC in essentially an elimination game in the Pac-10 race. The games can be found on ABC and ESPN2, check your local listings. If you aren't into football, then check the HBO's.

Below is Dave's book recommendation.

Tonight's book recommendation is A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole. This is simply my favorite novel. I read it about every other year, and it gets more enjoyable each time. The book has everything, a Falstaff-like antihero, a pants magnate, crazy old men, hot dog carts, Boethius, Fortuna, etc. Also, Ignatius Reilly will open your eyes into an entirely new technique of insult.


World Series TV Guide: Game 2

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tonight it's Pedro vs. AJ Burnett, but on the plus side, Thursday is like the best night on television week in and week out. Besides, AJ hates Jack McKeon, so to hell with him.

  • 7 EDT UFL Football - California vs. NY (Versus). It's technically football.
  • 8 EDT Community/Parks and Rec/The Office/30 Rock (NBC). It's the best lineup on network television, enough said.
  • 10 EDT It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia/The League (FX). The most bizarre comedy on TV right now, followed by the debut of a show that has a decent premise (it's about a bunch of friends in a fantasy football league) that I probably will not like for some reason.
And tonight's book recommendation is Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation. This book cemented Sarah Vowell as my literary crush -- she is deliciously nerdy. Vowell explores various destinations surrounding the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley, musing on history, memory, and kitsch, all with some George Bush bashing for good measure.


World Series TV Guide: Game 1

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee will square off in Game 1 tonight, and here are your alternatives:

  • 8 EDT: NBA doubleheader, Hornets at Spurs followed by Jazz at Nuggets (ESPN): It's basketball, if you're into that sort of thing. Floridians can get the Heat game on Sun Sports at 7:30.
  • 8 EDT: It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (ABC): A Halloween classic.
  • 8 EDT: New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS): My mom loves this show, and it has Julia Louis-Dreyfus. That is everything I know about this show.
  • 9 EDT: Modern Family (ABC): Probably the best new comedy this season, Modern Family is a mockumentary-style sitcom featuring three branches of one semi-dysfunctional family. It is quite good, kind of like an Arrested Development meets The Office.
  • 10 EDT: Burn After Reading (Cinemax): Most of my friends were disappointed by this effort from the Coen Brothers, but I think if you go in not expecting a Big Lebowski-sized success, you will be pleasantly surprised by this farce.
And finally, tonight's book recommendation is The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson. In it, Larson intertwines a history of the building of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair with the tale of H.H. Holmes, a serial killer who preyed on young women during the fair. Larson deftly balances historical storytelling with an examination of a shrewd psycopath who took advantage of his surroundings to build a small business empire and take advantage of skyrocketing demand for cadavers from the burgeoning American medical school system. I'm making my way through this currently, and have enjoyed it thus far.


Our Service To Marlins Fans

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

This year's Worlds Series matchup is one of the worst in recent memory for Marlins fans, featuring the Phillies, a major divisional rival, and the Yankees, the scourge of South Florida sports fans. We've seen both teams in the World Series over the past decade, but at least they faced another team we could root for. But this year's matchup is almost as bad as the Mets-Yankees matchup in 2000. All we can do is complain that the Yankees bought the pennant and the Phillies benefitted from a very weak National League, and both grievances only make us look petty.

What are Marlins fans to do? Not much, unfortunately. Aside from rooting for an act of god to postpone the series (which I guess would be sort of unethical), our options appear to be limited to apathy. Such is life sometimes. At the very least, we can live with the fact that last year's Phillies World Series victory eventually gave us a great episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia...

But as a public service to our entire reader base (which is only like 30 people, but still), I'll be posting some recommended TV viewing for every night of the series, so none of you will be forced to watch this abomination of a World Series out of boredom. If you don't have cable, then read a book, I'll recommend one of those each night, too. Stay strong, Marlins fans. This will only last a week and a half, at the most. After that, we can just pretend that never happened and distract ourself with Dolphins self-pity.

Yankee fan via Notes from the Nat


A Great Paragraph

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

From the inimitable Joe Posnanski:

Babe Ruth on steroids (and with a better workout plan) might have hit 100 home runs in a season. And Josh Gibson, with no color barrier, might have hit 120. And Walter Johnson with a split-fingered fastball might have struck out 400 in a season. And Zack Greinke, transported to 1968 Detroit, might have had 30 wins and a 1.33 ERA. And Duane Kuiper, in Coors Field, might have hit .300. It's a great game, this baseball. So many possibilities.


This Week in Schadenfreude

Monday, October 12, 2009

From the AP, the Cubs appear to be on the verge of finally being sold, but first, they will have to suffer the embarrassment of bankruptcy:

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Chicago Cubs filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday, a step that will allow their owner to sell the baseball team in an $845 million deal.

The filing in Wilmington, Del., was anticipated and is expected to lead to a brief stay in Chapter 11 for the Cubs. A hearing was scheduled for Tuesday in front of the judge who has been handling the bankruptcy of the Cubs' owner, Tribune Co.

The Cubs' filing is part of the Tribune Co.'s plans to sell the team, Wrigley Field and related properties to the family of billionaire Joe Ricketts, the founder of Omaha, Neb.-based TD Ameritrade.

Tribune, which also owns the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, filed for bankruptcy protection in December, but the Cubs were not covered in the filing. The team's run through Chapter 11 could last mere days, enough to protect its new owners from potential claims by Tribune creditors, said Ira Herman, a bankruptcy attorney with Thompson & Knight.

Tribune bought the Cubs in 1981 for $20.5 million from candy maker Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. Tribune announced plans to sell the franchise in 2007, but got tripped up by the recession and the collapse of the credit markets.

It has agreed to sell the Ricketts family a 95 percent stake in a deal that tops the record $660 million paid for the Boston Red Sox and its related properties in 2002. Tribune Co. is keeping the remaining 5 percent.

Major League Baseball's other owners have approved the sale.

The Cubs' bankruptcy filing is not the first in baseball. The Baltimore Orioles were sold in a bankruptcy auction in 1993 after owner Eli Jacobs filed for Chapter 11. The same happened to the Seattle Pilots after the 1969 season. The new owners moved the team to Milwaukee and changed the name to the Brewers.

The National Hockey League's Phoenix Coyotes, a franchise that has yet to make a profit since moving from Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1996, filed for Chapter 11 protection in May.

This has been your This Week in Schadenfreude.


End of Season Awards

The offseason is upon us, so let's hand out some awards and superlatives. On with the memories with some awards I made up...

Dontrelle Willis Out of Nowhere Award, given to the player who was completely off the radar in Spring Training that made a big impact on the team: Chris Coghlan. Who knew Coghlan, who had never played a game in left field until the night before he was promoted to the big club, would flourish in the position? Coghlan wasn't even on my radar before the season, but what he lacked in buzz he made up for with performance, solidifying the leadoff spot and getting some Rookie of the Year consideration along the way.

Jorge Julio Award
, given to the new addition to team who completely flopped: Emilio Bonifacio. Things went downhill quickly for Bonifacio after his inside-the-park home run on opening day, as he posted a .309 on base percentage this year, eighth-worst among NL qualifiers.

Darren Daulton Deadline Dandy, given to the best midseason acquisition: Nick Johnson. Johnson was the perfect hitter to place between Coghlan and Hanley Ramirez, when he was healthy. Hey, it's not like Luis Ayala was getting this award.

Next Member of the Marlins Diaspora, self explanatory: Dan Uggla. Congratulations on another great year with the bat. Unfortunately, you have priced yourself out of the Marlins' 2010 payroll. And when Emilio Bonifacio replaces you, hits .215, and costs the Marlins their season, Jeff Loria will blame Fredi Gonzalez and fire his ass. Way to go, Dan.

Bret Barberie Bizarre Boo-Boo: given to the player with the weirdest injury of the season, named after the time former Marlin Bret Barberie missed a game due to a case of habanero juice in the eye: Jorge Cantu. Everyone's favorite sassy senior had to leave the Marlins' June 10 game against St. Louis with a bout of the dizzies. The problem was caused by his cholesterol medication. Cantu is 27 years old, which may make him the youngest person in America to take cholesterol medication...

On with some other, more generic awards...

MVP: Hanley Ramirez. No explanation necessary.

Best Pitcher: Josh Johnson. The only pitcher you could count on to give a quality start.

Biggest Surprise: Chris Coghlan. In a deep farm system, Coghlan was not the first player you would have expected to make an impact for the Marlins, but he did.

Biggest Disappointment: Four-way tie for Ricky Nolasco, Chris Volstad, Anibal Sanchez, and Andrew Miller. Before the season, Ted said "The top three of the rotation [with Johnson] has a chance to be great... they don't need to be all stars now, just decent." I said "None of the Marlins' pitchers will get any Cy Young consideration, but not because they didn't deserve it." Josh Johnson held up his end of the deal. The rest, not so much.


Your Marlins Diaspora Guide to the 2009 Playoffs

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

It's playoff time, and while the Marlins will be watching from home, we can at least follow the lucky children of the Marlins Diaspora who managed to make the playoffs with another team. Here's the lucky few who made it to the playoffs:

NY Yankees: AJ Burnett, P
Minnesota Twins: Mike Redmond, C; Carl Pavano, P
LA Angels: Darren Oliver, P
Boston Red Sox: Mike Lowell, 3B; Josh Beckett, P; Alex Gonzalez, SS

LA Dodgers: Juan Pierre, OF
St. Louis Cardinals: no former Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies: Paul Bako, C
Colorado Rockies: no former Marlins

As you can see, it is not a great list, with the exception of the Boston Red Sox. But on the plus side, we will get to see some former favorites on a big stage. And if Carl Pavano can make some big outs for the Twins against his former Yankee employers, all the better.


Playoff Contest is Closed

It looks like my chances of winning my own contest are quite good, as only Adam Smoot of Bright Orange Seats and Tom Green of 4th and Fail gave us their playoff picks. You can view everyone's picks and point totals as the playoffs move on here. Some interesting points to note:

  • Everyone thinks the Yankees and Angels will win the ALDSes.
  • I had the only bracket without the Yankees in the World Series.
  • Tom and I like the Cards to win it all, while Ted picked the Rockies and Adam picked the Yankees.
  • Adam also gave us an extra-special super-specific prediction: "World Series goes 7 games, Jeter bats .182 with 0 RBI, A-Rod bats .367, with 11 RBI, tying Mantle for 2nd most RBI in a World Series, the universe collapses into itself and life as we know it comes to an end." Not bad...
Good luck guys.

UPDATE: After the divisional series, Adam is in the lead with four points, followed by the field with three points each. Adam is the only entrant left with his World Series choice still in it, but he does not have it locked up yet by any means...


Playoff Brackets

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Twins and Tigers are about to start their one-game playoff, and once the game is over, you will have little time to fill out your playoff brackets.

Here is a blank bracket to be used if the Twins win tonight, and here is a blank bracket to be used if the Tigers win tonight.

To keep managing this thing simple, please send me your picks in a list so I can enter it into a quick spreadsheet, which I'll link here before the playoffs start. Full contest rules are here. You have until the first game starts to e-mail me [davidhill126-at-gmail-dot-com]. Good luck.

On a related note, Slate released their annual "surface-level guide to the postseason," which you can read here. A quick-reference guide that I can use to insult Yankees and Red Sox fans? I'm in.


Fredi Lives!

Ken Rosenthal is reporting that Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez will keep his job. His sources say that Fredi was never in any danger of getting fired, but I believe that about as much as I believe OJ is innocent, which is to say you cannot trust Jeffrey Loria, who is, as Israel Gutierrez calls him, "George Steinbrenner with an empty wallet."

I have a feeling that it will be a long offseason for Marlins fans...


Week in Review

Monday, October 5, 2009

Chris Coghlan, heading home.

Overview: The Marlins took two of three from the Braves and Phillies to finish the year at 87-75, six games out of first and five out of the Wild Card.
Highlight of the Week: Ricky Nolasco strikes out nine consecutive Braves.
Line of the Week: Nolasco was on fire at Atlanta Wednesday, setting a new team record with 16 strikeouts. His line:
7.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 16 K
Looking Ahead: The Marlins are done for the year. As for Ted and me, we'll be doing a few other things around here in October before going relatively dormant until pitchers and catchers report. We'll pop up from time to time to discuss the Winter Meetings, trades, free agent signings, etc., as well. In the meantime, you can find Ted on Ted Ginn & Tonic (his Miami Dolphins blog) and at 4th and Fail. I blog about jazz at Hot House. You can also find us at Twitter (Dave, Ted).

AP Photo/Tom Mihalek via


Why Is Fredi Gonzalez on the Hot Seat?

Note: The final Week in Review of the 2009 season will be posted later today.

Reports are circulating that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is pissed, and he may take out his frustrations on Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez. Apparently, Loria is miffed that a team with a payroll of $35 million did not make the playoffs, and he thinks the coaching staff is to blame. I was about to deconstruct this entire line of though entirely, until I read this morning's Miami Herald and found that Israel Gutierrez made largely the same argument that I would have, so I'll quote him instead.

If it's true that Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez is on the verge of being replaced, and team president David Samson did nothing to dispel the rumors that have suddenly circulated, then Jeffrey Loria has officially become a meddler.

And not just your ordinary, run-of-the-mill delusional owner who wants so badly to win that he will more than occasionally make a mockery of his organization.

No, Loria would be worse. He would be the delusional owner who wants to win so badly that he makes a mockery of his organization -- but doesn't spend any money in the process.

He's a persistent beggar and a demanding chooser. He's George Steinbrenner with an empty wallet.

It would be a joke, really, that the owner who dishes out the lowest payroll in the majors replaces the manager who guided his team to 87 wins and a second-place finish in the division. Especially when even the most optimistic of baseball experts considered the Marlins a sleeper team with a decent starting rotation and little else.

The Marlins brass, however, considered this team playoff caliber. And now those unrealistic expectations are about to cost Gonzalez his job?

It's beyond ridiculous. It's profound in its stupidity.

You can read the rest of his take here. For the record, this is the same front office that considered Emilio Bonifacio to be worthy of starting at third base and hitting leadoff. And they think Fredi was the problem this year. The front office has complained about Gonzalez's handling of late-game situations, but Gutierrez points out that the Marlins were 30-20 in one-run games this year, so what exactly are they concerned about (except for the decision to platoon Matt Lindstrom and Leo Nunez in the closer spot, which was essentially forced upon Gonzalez when the front office failed to acquire bullpen help for the stretch run)?

What Gutierrez does not mention, but is worth discussing, is that good managers rarely add more than a few wins over the course of a season. Baseball is in many ways an individual sport, it's hitter vs. pitcher, with some occasional teamwork occurring on defense. The Marlins really only have themselves to blame for not making the playoffs this year. There is nothing Fredi could have done to prevent Ricky Nolasco from forgetting how to pitch effectively at the beginning of this year, for instance.

Hopefully David Sampson, Larry Beinfest, and Michael Hill will come to their senses and talk Loria out of firing Fredi. If not, then the Marlins will have become the bizarro Yankees.


There's a reason the Marlins have the reputation they have...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Marlins players openly joke about the looming salary slashing. "Happy trails to you, Danny Boy!'' Ross Gload said to Dan Uggla. "You're making too much money. I hope we get a good pitcher for you.''
via the Miami Herald

AP Photo/Tom Mihalek via


The Requisite "Next Year Will Be Better" Post

The time has come for some end-of-season reflection, so here are my thoughts on the 2009 season. Last year, the Marlins were considered to be a bit of an overachieving team, finishing 84-77 despite a Pythagorean W-L of 81-81. 2009 was a similar story, with the Marlins currently sitting 86-74 with a Pythagorean W-L of 82-78. Indeed, were it not for a dismal month of May, during which the team went 9-20, the Marlins could have very easily made the playoffs in an alternate universe. So while I am disappointed 2009 did not go better, I also understand that the Marlins played a bit above expectations.

I won't rehash all the failings of the team in 2009, from the bullpen nightmares to the inconsistent starting pitching, but will instead use 2009 as a guide for what the Marlins need to accomplish to improve in 2010.

Offensively, the Marlins appear due for a dropoff next year. At this point they have scored the fifth most runs in the National League while posting the fourth highest OBP and fifth highest OPS (and that was with Emilio Bonifacio starting most of the season!). But it appears highly likely that the team will lose at least two of the trio of Nick Johnson, Dan Uggla, and Jorge Cantu to free agency and/or arbitration. While it is possible that their numbers can be replaced by some of the younger players due to come up in 2010 (Gaby Sanchez, Logan Morrison, ?), I'm not so enthusiastic that the offense will necessarily continue humming along next year.

That is not to say all hope is lost. The Fish still possess Hanley Ramirez, one of the most talented players in the game who creates runs no matter who is batting around him. And Chris Coghlan has turned himself into an effective OBP machine hitting leadoff. If an effective hitter can take residence between the two in the lineup (perhaps Maybin?), then the Marlins will trot out a formidable top of the order every day next year. Hopefully the front office doesn't try to convince themselves that Bonifacio could start at second if Dan Uggla does not return.

But as we learned this year, a good offense cannot win the division without consistently effective starting pitching. Not to get all Joe Morgan here, but aside from Josh Johnson, the Marlins' rotation in 2009 was a bit of a roller-coaster ride. Ricky Nolasco struggled out of the gate, and never fully recaptured his effective 2008 form. Chris Volstad showed promise, but gave up 29 home runs over the same number of starts, which limited his effectiveness. Andrew Miller and Anibal Sanchez battled injuries all year, and Sean West showed flashes of brilliance but struggled with his control, walking 44 batters over 103 innings. All six of these pitchers had some great outings during the year, but they were all too often punctuated by disappointing outings, with the exception of Johnson, who proved himself worthy of at least one lame Photoshop.

If the Marlins wish to compete next year, they will need to get more quality starts out of their rotation. They got 73 through the first 160 games of 2009, which puts them at 13th in the NL. To me, this is the most important statistic to watch in 2010, as it will tell you how well the young pitching staff will be at logging low-scoring innings.

Then there is the bullpen. Though the team has publicly said they are comfortable bringing back Matt Lindstrom and Leo Nunez, I'm not convinced. We'll see what they have to say after the dust has settled on the 2009 season and Fredi Gonzalez does not have to worry about keeping the clubhouse peaceful. The Marlins had some good success from 2004-2006 picking up closers off the scrap heap (Armando Benitez, Todd Jones, even Joe Borowski) and letting them pitch; perhaps it may be time to try that again (although they are always liable to end up with another Jorge Julio/Kevin Gregg situation...).

Until all the offseason roster shake-ups are done, I am loathe to make any predictions about next year. Nevertheless, I feel I am justified in being optimistic about 2010.


  © Blogger template The Professional Template II by 2009

Back to TOP