About this blog:

About This Blog:
I'm Denim. I cover all things sports, in particular Baseball, Football, College Football, & Hockey, especially the Baltimore Orioles, Penn State Nittany Lions, NY Giants, Colorado Avalanche, & Vancouver Canucks.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Santana for Closer? (and other Orioles notes)

In order to compete with the elite teams in MLB, you need a consistent closer. If Tommy "Heartburn" Hunter continues to struggle, I think the Baltimore Orioles should give Johan Santana a chance in that role when he is ready in June. It'd be a way to maximize his potential to reach his former skill level, while safely limiting him to only one inning every few days.

Hunter has only 2 blown saves, and fortunately the O's came back to win both of those games, but it hasn't been pretty. He hasn't had a 1-2-3 inning yet, always allowing several baserunners before shutting the door. This is nothing new for Hunter. He deserved a shot in the role, but he isn't a stable enough pitcher to stay in it.

Baltimore Orioles 1B Chris Davis is back and starting in today's lineup. Unfortunately, C Matt Wieters was put on the DL. The Orioles are in 1st place in the AL East, even though haven't had all of their positional starters in the lineup at the same time for even 1 game yet. 

©2014 Denim McDemus

Friday, May 9, 2014

Contraction, It’s Not Just For Pregnancy Anymore

A lot of Major League Baseball fans complain about this season’s Interleague Play setup. Instead of having a set time period when all teams play someone from the other league, and teams playing all of their interleague games in a row, now there is an interleague series going on at all times. This is due to the fact that since the Houston Astros were moved to the American League so that the leagues would have the same amount of teams, each league has had an odd number of teams (15), so someone has to play interleague at all times.

I personally have no problem with ongoing interleague play. It allows for novel matchups on a daily basis, and a variety of teams to watch oppose your favorite team.

While I agree that both leagues should have the same number of teams, I also think they should have an even number of teams. This could be resolved by contracting two teams, one from each league, leaving each with 14 teams, while weeding out teams with poor attendance and low-spending owners. This idea was proposed by Major League Baseball several years ago, and probably should have been done. The league wanted to contract the Florida Marlins and the Minnesota Twins, but I only agree with half of that plan.

First off, the Florida Marlins must go. I don’t think too many people will disagree with that. Their ownership has a history of disappointing their small fan base. They almost always underspend, fielding what amounts to a minor league team, while charging Major League ticket prices. The few times the team has succeeded were ALWAYS followed by a fire sale unloading of their talent. The local fan base doesn’t care, ownership doesn’t care, so why should the team even exist? It shouldn’t. Let’s be honest, a summer sport like Major League Baseball will never succeed in Florida, there are just too many other things to do, which brings me to my next point.

No matter how many exciting young players they bring in, no matter how well the team plays, no matter how many AL East Titles or World Series Championships they win, the Tampa Bay Rays still struggle to fill their stadium. It’s time to face the facts, the MLB and Florida are not a good mix. If the always-exciting Rays can’t draw fans, no Florida team will. That being said, there is no way the league would or should contract the Tampa Bay Rays. It’s certainly not the fault of the team or ownership that the seats are empty.

My solution? Move the team. Considering growing television markets and rising population, combined with the league’s oversaturation in the East, everything points towards moving the Rays out West. MLB has been salivating over the Las Vegas Market for a while now. I’m not completely convinced their transient population can sustain a Major League team, but that seems to be the most likely destination for any new or relocated team. Hopefully the tourist population will fill the seats well enough. The Rays certainly have a better chance of drawing fans in Vegas than anywhere in Florida.

That leaves the question of which 2nd team to contract. I say no to the Minnesota Twins. They are a major presence in the Midwest, in one of the most important markets in the region. They have a better track record of spending and on the field success than several other teams. Contracting the Twins is not the answer. So who?

I’m going to go out on a limb and say the Toronto Blue Jays. Canadians will never fully support baseball, and the Jays don't draw crowds now that the novelty of the new stadium is gone. Plus they are the only current MLB team outside of the US, causing the need for passports, work visas, international flights, etc. Ownership has gone out of their way to spend money on the stadium and big name players, but there just isn’t a large enough interest in the sport of baseball in Canada. How did the Expos fare? Sure, the franchise could be relocated like the Rays, but then we’d have to pick another AL team to contract. This is an easy way to cut each league down to an even 14 teams, while confining the league to the continental US. 
How would I reorder the remaining teams? Move the Rays from Tampa Bay to Las Vegas, and put them in the AL West. Move the Houston Astros to the AL Central. Move the Cleveland Indians to the AL East. The AL West goes back to having 4 teams (or leave Houston in the West and leave the Central with 4 teams).

The National League East could be left with 4 teams. If the league prefers for the East to have 5, move the Pittsburg Pirates to the East, setting up an intrastate rivalry with the Philadelphia Phillies. I’d leave the NL Central with 4 teams, as the East and West are somewhat more important markets for the league. The Midwest Region can just be happy they didn’t lose the Twins.
So, for what it’s worth, this is my proposed solution on how to get each league down to an even number of teams, while having the same amount of teams in both.   

©2014 Denim McDemus

Thursday, May 1, 2014

NHL 2nd Round Picks

Here are my picks for round 2 of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs:

Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens
Despite the Habs sweeping The Tampa Bay Lightning, I think Boston goalie and likely Vezina Trophy winner Tuukka Rask will play up to form, and take the Bruins over the top. (Bruins in 6)

Pittsburg Penguins vs. NY Rangers
The Rangers are my sleeper pick in this year’s playoffs. They have been playing great hockey since late in the regular season. They are better than the Columbus Bluejackets, who wore the overconfident Penguins out. (Rangers in 6)

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Minnesota Wild
The upstart Minnesota Wild pulled off a 1st round upset over a young and inexperienced Colorado Avalanche team. Every game was close, and most went to OT. The Chicago Blackhawks, on the other hand, are the defending Stanley Cup Champs, and are filled to the brim with playoff experience and talent. Chicago isn’t the best team in this year’s playoffs, but they should be able to win this series. (Blackhawks in 7)

Anaheim Ducks vs. LA Kings
The LA Kings are red hot right now, coming back from a 3 game deficit to win 4 straight, and I don’t see the overrated Anaheim Ducks stopping their momentum any better than the San Jose Sharks did. (Kings in 4)

©2014 Denim McDemus

"You did what?!"

The Baltimore Orioles made YET ANOTHER terrible roster move. To make room for returning 3B Manny Machado, they sent 2B Steve Lombardozzi, batting .292, down to AAA Norfolk, instead of Ryan Flaherty (.188), David Lough (.172), Steve Pearce (.143), or recent call up Jemile Weeks.

In my opinion, Lombardozzi has earned the starting 2B job, or at least a right to share time with Jonathan Schoop.

Why does Orioles manager Buck Showalter persist on keeping Flaherty and Pearce around for year after year of mediocrity, while blocking deserving players from the roster? The team as a whole has to be more important than any individual player. This team will never succeed with Flaherty and Lough being automatic outs every time through the lineup. The O's always use the excuse that Flaherty is "versatile" on defense. Sure he'll play any position, but he plays them all poorly.

This is not the roster move of a team that wants to "win now". Stop digging the team into a hole, just to give repeated chances to players who will never be more than they are. Schoop deserves to be in the Majors. Lombardozzi belongs in the Majors. Flaherty, Pearce, and Weeks never will. Lough isn't ready yet.

Apparently I care more about the Orioles success than their management and front office do...

©2014 Denim McDemus