2012 predictions

First of all, I’d say the Cardinals have found their replacement for Albert Pujols!

Minor League Guy on third

I’m currently out of work, which would have allowed me to sit in front of the TV on Opening Day and live-tweet, as I did in some past years (even before Twitter was invented) — but instead, I’m going to be in Ireland, where there will probably not be any baseball on TV.

On to the predictions. Kansas City appears to be Sports Illustrated’s pick to be the surprising team of the year, but our cold equations still have them finishing last in the AL Central. They’re also obviously taking Pujols into account with their Angels prediction, but we’re not.

Sports Illustrated Baseballrelated.com
AL East
1. N.Y. Yankees (95-67) 1. N.Y. Yankees (96-66)
2. Tampa Bay Rays (92-70) 2. Tampa Bay Rays (93-69)
3. Boston Red Sox (91-71) 3. Boston Red Sox (90-72)
4. Toronto Blue Jays (85-77) 4. Toronto Blue Jays (82-80)
5. Baltimore Orioles (63-99) 5. Baltimore Orioles (68-94)
AL Central
1. Detroit Tigers (93-69) 1. Detroit Tigers (90-72)
2. Kansas City Royals (82-80) 2. Chicago White Sox (82-80)
3. Cleveland Indians (80-82) 3. Cleveland Indians (76-86)
4. Minnesota Twins (72-90) 4. Minnesota Twins (73-89)
5. Chicago White Sox (67-95) 5. Kansas City Royals (70-92)
AL West
1. L.A. Angels (97-65) 1. Texas Rangers (94-68)
2. Texas Rangers (94-68) 2. L.A. Angels (84-78)
3. Oakland Athletics (68-94) 3. Oakland Athletics (76-86)
4. Seattle Mariners (64-98) 4. Seattle Mariners (65-97)
NL East
1. Philadelphia Phillies (94-68) 1. Philadelphia Phillies (100-62)

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Miami Marlins (89-73)

2. Atlanta Braves (90-72)
3. Washington Nationals (84-78) 3. N.Y. Mets (78-84)
4. Atlanta Braves (82-80) 4. Washington Nationals (76-86)
5. N.Y. Mets (75-87) 5. Miami Marlins (75-87)
NL Central
1. Cincinnati Reds (89-73) 1. Milwaukee Brewers (90-72)
2. St. Louis Cardinals (87-75) 2. St. Louis Cardinals (89-73)
3. Milwaukee Brewers (84-78) 3. Cincinnati Reds (83-79)
4. Pittsburgh Pirates (70-92) 4. Chicago Cubs (72-90)
5. Chicago Cubs (66-96) 5. Pittsburgh Pirates (67-95)
6. Houston Astros (57-105) 6. Houston Astros (63-99)
NL West
1. San Francisco Giants (90-72) 1. San Francisco Giants (88-74)
2. Arizona Diamondbacks (88-74) 2. Arizona Diamondbacks (84-78)
3. L.A. Dodgers (83-79) 3. L.A. Dodgers (81-81)
4. Colorado Rockies (79-83) 4. San Diego Padres (77-85)
5. San Diego Padres (70-92) 5. Colorado Rockies (76-86)

Sales pitch

I got a phone call today from the Angels selling season ticket plans. Despite the single-game tickets I’ve bought over the last decade-plus, this is the first time I’ve ever been called by a salesperson from any team — never the Angels previously, not the Dodgers, not any of the teams we’ve seen on the road trips.

My guess is that

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the Angels hired some extra people in the ticket department due to Pujols, and now to give them all something to do, they’re going further down the lead sheet than they would have in the past. Fortunately, I got the salesperson off the phone quickly when I said I’d just lost my job — no, wait, I guess that was unfortunate, right?

Anyway, Levi might be happy to know that Pujols didn’t come up during the brief conversation, so at least they’re not leading with him.

Notes from the first few days of the season

Expanding on a few tweets I’ve made while watching some games this week…

1. Nice to see Albert Pujols quickly rewarding our faith in calling him a Player to Watch by hitting two home runs on Opening Day. Obviously, he knows a Cardinals-friendly blog when he sees one.

2. When I got home from work Monday, the only game on TV was Giants-Astros. Things were going along unremarkably until an Astros pitcher named Sammy Gervacio came in for the top of the 9th. He had, it turned out, a bizarre pre-pitch ritual, wherein he would briefly stare down the third-base dugout while holding the ball up. I’m not really doing it justice here; suffice to say that Mrs. Levi thought he was a robot. The only videos I can find of it are only halfway decent; here’s someone’s shaky-cam from the stands on Opening Day, and a brief video from spring training.

He was effective on Opening Day, striking out 2 of the 3 batters he faced; however, he ended up taking the loss in the second game, giving up two hits and an earned run in a third of an inning. And then he went on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. But I hereby proclaim him a Player to Watch once he gets back.

3. The Rays should know better than to set off fireworks inside Tropicana Field, as they did before their Opening Day game, which was not on Opening Day, for unexplained reasons. The haze never dissipated during the game, and for me watching on TV, it made Tropicana Field look even darker and dingier inside than it normally is. At one point, Rays announcer DeWayne Staats had to read an ad proclaiming that game was broadcast in “beautiful HD, brought to you by H.H. Gregg.” That HD was not beautiful. If H.H. Gregg had that game on any of the TVs in the store, it would have caused potential buyers to run away screaming, going home to embrace their old standard-definition TVs.

4. Wednesday evening, I discovered that DirecTV was carrying the Rogers SportsNet coverage of the Blue Jays-Rangers game, including the Canadian commercials. Which, it turned out, weren’t all that exciting. In fact, Lowe’s is running the same commercials in Canada that they are in the U.S., just with a different announcer at the end saying “Canada’s new home improvement warehouse.” Also, movie ads in Canada don’t end with the rating, which make them seem incomplete — they just kind of stop.

Don’t expect many more posts like this from me during the season, since I’ll be watching a lot less baseball once DirecTV’s free trial of the MLB Extra Innings package is over. This really should be Levi’s type of post, but he has unfortunately turned his attention to his “I’ve Been Reading Lately” blog, and to other literary activities, in the past couple of years. Just in case you’re wondering where he is…

Best kid since Jeffrey Maier?

Vivaelbirdos poster Brock20 found this video of a kid, all of about four years old, doing imitations of the batting stances of several Cardinals. He’s got them cold–check out the swing and follow-through on Pujols–and the deadly home run stare. Hard to believe a four-year-old can mimic that ice-cold look, but he does. It’s uncanny. His Jimmy Edmonds is really good, too.

Meanwhile, his kid sister sings “Row Row Row Your Boat” in the background.

Opening Day is getting close.


You know things have been going badly for your team when NPR has a feature on their near-choke. But after two weeks of unwanted drama, the Cardinals pulled out their sixth Central Division championship in seven years, which means that, because in the one year they didn’t make the playoffs, 2003, the Cubs won the division, there’s been a team in which Stacey and I have a serious rooting interest in the playoffs every one of the seven years we’ve been hosting baseball open house at the Rocketship.

Some notes from last week:

1) Wednesday night, when the Cardinals desperately needed a win against San Diego to end a seven-game losing streak, late in the game Cardinals broadcaster John Rooney said, regarding the extra-inning Astros-Pirates game, “You’ll hear the crowd start bubbling in a few minutes, because the magic number has just dropped to four.” Stacey and I, while listening to the Cardinals game on the Internet, were also following the Pirates-Astros game on mlb.com’s Gameday, and from what we could tell, the game wasn’t over–the Pirates had by no means won.

Rooney came back from a break for a San Diego pitching change saying, “We had some wrong information on that Pittsburgh-Houston game.” But before he could explain what had actually happened, Albert Pujols hit one into orbit, giving the Cardinals a good-sized lead. Rooney got caught up in describing the action, and he didn’t get back to apologizing and explaining for probably five minutes. Houston would go on to win that game, leaving Rooney in very real danger of having fatally jinxed the team.

2) That mistake also ties in with my brother’s biggest complaint about Rooney, whom I’ve been a big fan of since his days keeping Ed Farmer in check on the White Sox broadcasts: he’s profligate with his home run hopes. About once per game, he’ll get all excited about a long fly . . . that dies short of the warning

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track. If you’re like me and my brother, and still get most of your baseball through radio announcers (admittedly via the Internet), it’s an extremely frustrating habit.

3) On Friday night, with Pujols at the plate again, Mike Shannon delivered the following call:

Shannon: Here’s the pitch. Pujols swings, and Ha-ha! You can’t sneak the sun past the rooster, boy! And the rooster just crowed!

Rooney: Cock-a-doodle-doo!

Rooney and Shannon work together better than Rooney and Wayne Hagin ever did. I hope Rooney’s okay with Shannon’s prominence on the broadcast, because they really do make a good team. Shannon, though not a great (or even good, really) play-by-play man, is a wonderful friend to listen to on the broadcasts. So long as he’s there, I’ll still feel like listening to Cardinals games is the same experience I grew up with, despite Jack Buck’s death.

4) Saturday, Stacey and I watched the Cardinals on Fox–cleverly synching up the Internet radio feed to the Tivo so that we could hear Shannon and Rooney instead of Piniella and Whoever–through the end of the seventh. The Cardinals were down 2-0 at that point, but I gathered my things to go to Wrigley Field, because I had a ticket to my last game of the year, an inconsequential tilt between the Cubs and Rockies.

I hopped on my bicycle . . . and got two blocks away, to Wilson Avenue, before I thought, “Why am I leaving an important game, one that I care about, to go see an utterly inconsequential game?” I turned around and got back home for the bottom of the eighth, which allowed me to see Sandfrog lead singer Scott Spiezio’s game-breaking triple. As soon as the game was over, I was back on my bike, and by the first pitch of the second inning at Wrigley, I was in my seat.

5) I hope there’s no long-term karmic damage from my rooting for Larry “Chipper” Jones and the Braves this weekend. Similarly, I hope St. Louis doesn’t get the punishment it probably deserves from the gods for doing the Tomahawk Chop a couple of times this weekend at Busch Stadium. As Lando might say, “There was nothing we could do. They arrived just before you did.” Or something like that.

Go, Cardinals!

"He’s sittin’ on 714"

I’m not sure if “honor” is the right word, but in honor of Barry Bonds’ current home run total, here’s Milo Hamilton’s call of Hank Aaron’s 715th home run on April 8, 1974, while both members of baseballrelated.com were ensconced in wombs.

Meanwhile, Albert Pujols is on the cover of Sports Illustrated again, for the second time in less than two months, and why not? Also in the issue is Baseball Prospectus’s projected home run leader board from the year 2020, which I want to reproduce here for posterity:

1. Barry Bonds (765)
2. Hank Aaron (755)
3. Babe Ruth (714)
4. Alex Rodriguez (678)
5. Willie Mays (660)
6. Adam Dunn (638)
7. Ken Griffey Jr. (637)
8. Albert Pujols (620)
9. Manny Ramirez (589)
10. Sammy Sosa (588)
11. Robotic Hitting Unit HR-1 (587)
12. Frank Robinson (586)

One of the above was actually my own addition to the Baseball Prospectus list, solely to make Levi chuckle.


Albert Pujols is a great hitter.
Albert Pujols is a great hitter.
Albert Pujols is a great hitter.

Notice how I did that three

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If it’s the last Thursday in March…

In Levi’s honor, Albert Pujols is on the cover of the Sports Illustrated baseball preview issue this year. And once again, here are their predictions, posted here so we can refer to them during the season and laugh at them in October.

NL East
1. Atlanta Braves
2. New York Mets
3. Philadelphia Phillies
4. Washington Nationals
5. Florida Marlins

NL Central
1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Milwaukee Brewers
3. Houston Astros
4. Chicago Cubs
5. Pittsburgh Pirates
6. Cincinnati Reds

NL West
1. L.A. Dodgers
2. S.F. Giants
3. San Diego Padres
4. Arizona Diamondbacks
5. Colorado Rockies

AL East
1. New York Yankees
2. Boston Red Sox
3. Toronto Blue Jays
4. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
5. Baltimore Orioles

AL Central
1. Chicago White Sox
2. Cleveland Indians
3. Minnesota Twins
4. Detroit Tigers
5. Kansas City Royals

AL West
1. Oakland A’s
2. L.A. Angels
3. Texas Rangers
4. Seattle Mariners

The two wild-card teams, they believe, will be the Angels and the Mets. White Sox vs. A’s in the ALCS, Cardinals vs. Braves in the NLCS, and White Sox over the Cardinals.


In the ninth innning of Sunday’s Sox win, Scott Podsednik at the plate, Joe Buck says to Tim McCarver, “You know, Tim, a lot of people thought Garner should have put Lidge into game six of the NLCS, just to get the taste of that Pujols home run out of his mouth. What do you think?”

“Well, Joe, I don’t think that taste is there.”

But right around the time McCarver said “taste,” the ballgame was ending as Podsednik’s homer cleared the right field wall.

Maybe that taste is there after all? Tastes a bit coppery, like blood.